The main event of Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Jardine featured a middleweight title fight between champion Luke Rockhold and UFC veteran Keith Jardine. Rockhold looked to defend his belt for the first time since defeating Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza in September. For Jardine, the fight marked his first venture into the 185-pound weight class.
The bout took place from The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and aired live on Showtime.
Let’s take a look at what we learned from the bout.
What We'll Remember about This Fight
Rockhold made it clear that his win over “Jacare” was not a fluke. The grappling ace used his striking to make sure that he would keep the belt for another fight.
Jardine’s first cut to middleweight appeared to take its toll as the fight progressed. Rockhold was faster with his hands and kicks, clipping Jardine repeatedly.
Ultimately, it was a big right hook behind Jardine’s ear that sent him stumbling to the mat, and Rockhold showed off his finishing instincts by not allowing him to recover.
What We Learned about Keith Jardine
It may be time for the grizzled veteran to hang it up. The former light heavyweight praised nutritionist Mike Dolce for helping him make the cut to middleweight, but based on his drawn-out appearance and sluggish performance as the fight went on, it may not have been the best decision.
Jardine has been in the cage with some of the biggest names in the sport, but he never seriously threatened Rockhold.
What We Learned about Luke Rockhold
He’s here to stay. While the majority of Rockhold’s wins have come by submission, the American Kickboxing Academy product has showcased his evolving striking attack in his last two bouts. His mix of body kicks and lead hooks kept Jardine off balance, repeatedly landing flush on his target.
With each fight, Rockhold has looked like more and more like a complete fighter. Since returning from a lengthy injury layoff, Rockhold has impressed in each of his cage appearances.
What's Next for Jardine
Either retirement or a return to the 205-pound weight class. The 36-year-old has been on the wrong end of some vicious knockouts in his career and while he may still have some gas in the tank, his best days are behind him.
Bouts against Gian Villante or Ovince St. Preux at light heavyweight would be good litmus tests for the younger fighters, while giving Jardine a chance to continue his career.
What's Next for Rockhold
A title defense against Tim Kennedy. Although Rockhold was dismissive of the bout in his post-fight interview, the fight makes sense. Kennedy’s strong wrestling base and solid chin are something that could test the champion. The Army Ranger has reeled off two straight wins since dropping a title bout to the aforementioned Souza in 2010.
Rockhold may be pleading for a shot at the UFC, but a fight with Kennedy and another bout with Souza should be on tap before Rockhold is matched up with anyone outside of the organization.