For professional fighters Wanderlei Silva and Keith Jardine, there is no time like the present. Their fight at UFC 84 on May 24th promises to have monumental consequences for the heavily-contested light-heavyweight division as well as their respective careers.
It seems like this match has been overshadowed in the press by the main event between Sean Sherk and BJ Penn, and the master of hype known as Tito Ortiz.
But if you ask Keith "The Dean of Mean" Jardine or Wanderlei "The Axe Murderer" Silva, they will tell you that this may very well be the most important fight of their life, with little to no exaggeration.
Silva, a former champion in the now defunct PRIDE FC organization, is coming off of three consecutive defeats.
After a five year period from 2000-2004 where he was undefeated through 18 contests, the future hall-of-famer has lost five out of his last nine bouts.
As a point of salvation, his recent losses have been to stellar competition. Mirko Cro Cop, Dan Henderson, and Chuck Liddell were all ranked in the top 5 of their division when he lost to them, and the fight against Cro Cop was at an open-weight tournament.
Silva’s record is 1-3 in the UFC, a fact that he will be looking to remedy come fight time. He arguably needs this win more than Jardine; otherwise his chances of competing for the UFC light-heavyweight title may be gone for good.
As for Jardine, many fans who follow the sport argue that he has been overlooked in a division that is brimming with talent and contenders hungry for a title shot.
Jardine knocked out the current no.1 contender Forrest Griffin, and beat the former champion Chuck Liddell by decision.
Plenty of MMA supporters believe that he is more deserving of a championship fight than Forrest Griffin, who recently defeated highly touted PRIDE FC superstar Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.
However, Jardine suffered an embarrassing 48 second knockout loss to UFC newcomer Houston Alexander in between his last two victories. This fact has hindered the appeals of those who clamor for Jardine to receive a title shot.
If Jardine beats Silva, he will have defeated two light-heavyweight legends in a row that were both ranked no.1, and who were widely considered to be the greatest 205 pound fighters to grace the sport.
This would be an unprecedented achievement to say the least. If Jardine loses, he will be knocked farther down the ladder of contenders and have to work his way back up again.
Both combatants bring a rather unorthodox style of fighting to the Octagon. Jardine throws wide punches from a high stance and possesses an array of devastating kicks intended to slow down his opponent.
Silva is trained in Muay Thai and Jiu-Jitsu, though he usually opts to keep the fight standing. He uses the Thai plum, a type of clinch, to throw destructive knee strikes which can penetrate any defense.
Jardine and Silva have power in both hands, though Jardine will enjoy a size and reach advantage. This fight will most likely play out on the feet, and whoever can get the better of the exchanges will win.
If Jardine can neutralize Silva’s aggressive style with kicks like he did against Liddell, he will have a great chance at emerging victorious. Silva will be looking to get a knockout early, so expect him to blast out of the gate with a furious pace as he tries to overwhelm Jardine.
Jardine is 32 and Silva is 31; but the former is in his prime while the latter may be nearing the tail end of his career. Silva will be pursuing one last run at championship glory while Jardine will be hard pressed to climb back into contention if he loses.
With Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans, Thiago Silva, “Shogun” Rua, and Chuck Liddell all vying for a shot at the title, there is little room for error in the stacked light-heavyweight division.
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson will defend his championship against Forrest Griffin on July 5 at UFC 86. After that fight, the no.1 contendership will be wide open.
What happens in the next couple of months will determine who gets the chance to fight for the prestigious 205 lb. belt. For Jardine and Silva, now is the best time to make a good impression.
They may not get a second chance.