Keith Jardine has neither never fought at middleweight, nor really flirted with the idea much until recently. To be honest, he's at the point of his career where some might argue that he'll be more tested by Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold in their five-round affair tonight than he will be a test for the champion.
Rockhold is a younger fighter who will have an edge on reach and height, though only by one inch in both cases, and his caliber of fighter seems to be just a flat-out more evolved version of the type of fighter some want to believe that Jardine will be.
So why, then, will Jardine pull out the win tonight?
Not to jump to any conclusions, because there's a difference between making weight for a title bout and winning a title bout, but Jardine's offense could be why a win for Jardine happens, if it should happen.
Jardine's always been more well-versed on the ground than he's expected to look against Rockhold tonight, and even though judges may not like leg kicks, Jardine puts enough behind his leg kicks to make them very effective.
Rockhold's slightly taller and has the longer reach. The way to throw Jardine off is to either establish one's aggression early on with some technical stand-up or use some fantastic footwork in order to throw the always-awkward offense of Jardine off, and Rockhold has not shown that much in the way of fantastic footwork.
Rockhold is a young talent that got tested against Jacare Souza and succeeded by one round in passing that test, but he's likely to move in one direction if he's coming after Jardine, who is being greatly underestimated simply because of the weight cut.
That premature perception that Jardine won't be competitive against Rockhold is why he might walk around town tonight claiming to be the undisputed Strikeforce middleweight title.
If Jardine has anything to say about it, however, Jardine will go out and just take the belt from Rockhold without claiming to be anything in what might be the most successful middleweight debut in recent memory.