UFC: Keith Jardine Is Gone, So Who Will Be the New LHW Gatekeeper?
As we all know by now Keith 'The Dean of Mean' Jardine was recently cut by the UFC after suffering his fourth straight loss to Matt Hamill at the TUF 11 Finale show.
With a 6-7 UFC record the termination of Keith Jardine's contract is understandable from a business perspective as Jardine can no long by sold as a credible fighter.
Before his recent losing streak, Jardine was at one point in his career approaching contender status, but from there it has all fallen apart for the Team Jackson fighter.
A position he has had for some time, Jardine can no longer even be considered the gatekeeper of the Light-Heavyweight division, which is a measure of how far he has fallen.
So with that said, and Jardine getting cut, who is the new gatekeeper of the 205lbs fighters?
Here are my contenders for the position.
Matt 'The Hammer' Hamill
UFC Record: 8-2
Matt Hamill is the guy who effectively relieved Jardine of his duties in the UFC be handing him his latest defeat at the TUF 11 Finale.
When you look at Hamill's UFC record it appears on first glance to be a bit harsh to consider him a gatekeeper, but you should look again. In reality he is 7-3 as one of his wins is a DQ from the Jon Jones fight in which he was dominated.
He is not a gatekeeper at present because he is still young and has not fulfilled his full potential.
However if he keeps failing when facing a step up in competition as he has done against Jon Jones and Rich Fraknlin, then he could quickly find himself as the new divisional gatekeeper.
Tito 'The Huntington Beach Bad Boy' Ortiz
UFC Record: 14-7-1
There is no question that the former Light-Heavyweight Champion is no longer the dominant fighter he once was.
3-0-1 in his last four UFC fights it's fair to say that getting a win over Ortiz has become a lot easier for his opponents.
Granted they were top tier fighters but with Ortiz having recurring injury problems after filming season 11 of The Ultimate Fighter the future of Ortiz as a top fighter is in doubt.
He still will posses the ability to beat lower end competition, but Tito can no longer hang with the top guys. That makes him a possible gatekeeper in my eyes.
Stephan 'The American Physco' Bonnar
UFC Record: 5-6
One half of what UFC President Dana White calls the most important fight in UFC history, Stephan Bonnar's place in the UFC seems to be safe whatever happens in his fights.
Currently sitting on the wrong side of an 11 fight UFC run, Bonnar is in need of a good run of wins to remain above the gatekeeper status.
His upcoming rematch with Soszynski will say a lot about where Bonnar currently sits in the divisional rankings at LHW.
UFC Record: 1-2
The former WEC Light-Heavyweight Champion, Steve Cantwell has not faired too well since the division merged into the UFC.
Two tough back to back decision losses has placed Cantwell into a tough position early in his UFC run and makes his next fight a must win.
He clearly has the talent to get wins in the UFC but he may lack the ability of the top level fighters meaning a future career as gatekeeper could be the best he can hope for.
Chuck 'The Iceman' Liddell
UFC Record: 16-7
Another former Light-Hevyweight Champion on the list of possible new gatekeepers. The only thing that will keep Liddell off this list is if he decides to finally retire.
'The Iceman' is 1-5 in his last six fights and four of the losses have been by KO. It's clear to everyone except it seems Chuck, that he is done as a top level fighter in the UFC.
Retirement should be his next career step, otherwise a new career as the LHW gatekeeper seems certain.
Krzysztof 'The Polish Experiment' Soszynski
UFC Record: 4-1
The former IFL Fighter, Soszynski has actually done pretty well since entering the UFC via the TUF house.
He will be facing Stephan Bonnar in a rematch at UFC 116 after the first fight ended due to a cut caused by an accidental head butt.
The fight will really determine where he sits in the division as a win would put him in line for a pretty big name opponent in his next fight.
A loss would put him very much in line to be the future gatekeeper of the division.
Brandon 'The Truth' Vera
UFC Record: 7-5
The former Heavyweight fighter is 3-3 since dropping to Light-Heavyweight is in my opinion one of the biggest wastes of potential we've seen in the UFC.
Vera has all the tools to be a top fighter and defeat the best, he just can never seem to put it all together.
There is a train of thought that he is actually a better fighter at Heavyweight.
The fact is thought that should he remain at 205lbs and continue his lackluster displays then he is undoubtedly a future or already the new gatekeeper.