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Keith Jardine Gets Strikeforce Title Shot, but Weight Cut Not Easy

Keith JardineKeith Jardine will fight Luke Rockhold for the Strikeforce middleweight title on Saturday night, which is surprising for two reasons: One, Jardine's recent record wouldn't seem to warrant a title shot. And two, Jardine is not a middleweight.

But while Jardine admits that having to get down to 185 pounds at the weigh-in on Friday afternoon makes him uneasy, he's adamant that he's a worthy opponent for Rockhold.

"I've never been down to 185, since my freshman year of high school probably," Jardine said at Thursday's pre-fight press conference.

Asked how much he weighed right then, about 24 hours before the weigh-in, Jardine wouldn't give a number but said, "I'm big."

Jardine has only fought in Strikeforce once, a draw with Gegard Mousasi last year, and his record over the last three years is 2-5-1, with the two wins coming against lightly regarded opponents on small shows. So a lot of MMA fans are questioning why Jardine is fighting for a belt. Jardine said he anticipated that reaction, but he's frustrated by those who believe he's unworthy of a fight against Rockhold.

"I say 'Screw you, whoever says that,'" Jardine said. "It's been a long trip to get to this point. I'm just so thrilled and honored to be here. I'm glad that Luke took this fight. I'm grateful for that."

Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker defended the promotion's decision to make Jardine the first challenger to Rockhold, who won the Strikeforce middleweight belt by defeating Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza in September.

"The thing about a veteran like Keith Jardine is he's already been in all the wars, he's already seen all the fights, and the battles that he's been through, to me, justify and warrant the title fight with Luke Rockhold," Coker said. "In MMA anything can happen."

Perhaps Coker is right: If Keith Jardine becomes the Strikeforce middleweight champion on Saturday night, that really would show that anything can happen in MMA.

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