Two veterans who recently dropped down to 185 pounds battled last night (July 12, 2012) as ADCC world champion grappler Roger Gracie took on recent Strikeforce middleweight title challenger "The Dean of Mean" Keith Jardine on the Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy main card in Portland, Oregon.
The big running storyline headed into the bout was the fact that Jardine, while on a pretty string of performances, had still never been submitted in his lengthy mixed martial arts career.
While his streak stayed intact, the Greg Jackson-trained fighter still took quite a beating in a losing effort against the elite submission specialist.
So how did Gracie end up pulling out the victory? And what happens next for both men?
Follow me after the jump for our Roger Gracie vs. Keith Jardine Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy post-fight review and analysis.
Jardine tried to get things going in the stand-up early but Gracie looked more comfortable there than he had in his previous bout against Muhammed Lawal. The second Jardine got too aggressive, Gracie made him pay by securing a body lock and dragging "The Dean of Mean" to the ground.
Once on the ground, Gracie was patient, but still aggressive. He had tremendous hip pressure and slowly but surely worked his way into a more dominant position, eventually attaining mount with over a minute to work. When he couldn't score a submission, he instead pounded Jardine with vicious elbows to close out the round.
Jardine's face was a bloody mess and Gracie took advantage of his desperation in the second round, immediately locking up and taking him down again when he came out wining a big punch. This time, Gracie attacked Jardine's back, putting the UFC veteran in a body triangle and really making him miserable.
Despite the dominant position, Gracie still could not secure a submission and instead settled for full mount and a couple more elbows at the end of the round.
Finally, in the third, Jardine fought smarter, sitting back a little further and throwing uppercuts instead of the wild hooks. He actually caught Gracie a few times in the third round, but he couldn't follow up with any strikes that would have finished the bout and Gracie was easily awarded a unanimous decision.
For Keith Jardine, the only real thing he can be proud of is the fact that he showcased some pretty damn good submission defense. His takedown defense was sloppy in the first two rounds and he made some key mistakes with his footwork which allowed Gracie to easily put him on his back and uncharacteristically keep him there for extended periods of time. When he finally forced Gracie to stand with him for the third round, he couldn't take advantage and knock him out.
With an 0-2-1 record in Strikeforce, I wouldn't be surprised if he were cut by the promotion after last night. If they keep him around for one more potential fight, options include power puncher Robbie Lawler or perhaps prospect Adlan Amagov.
For Roger Gracie, those first two rounds were a thing of beauty. There were some questions about his ability to take Jardine down and he answered them emphatically. He also looked better on his feet, although he was still pretty stiff. If I had one complaint (and seriously, who am I to tell the best ground fighter in the world what to do on the ground?) I would have liked to see Gracie attack more with ground and pound. Jardine proved resilient to Gracie's submissions in the first round but it was the elbows from Gracie that did all the damage. If he had worked more to posture up and really pound Jardine's face in, I think he actually could have scored a second round stoppage whether it was via doctor or via knockout.
There are plenty of potential opponents for Gracie at this point. He could take on fellow main card winner Lorenz Larkin or he could take on the winner of the upcoming Ronaldo Souza vs. Derek Brunson bout or lastly, they might even throw him in there against the current champion Luke Rockhold. I'd be happy with any of those options but the thought of seeing to world class BJJ fighters compete in mixed martial arts really gets my blood pumping.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Did Roger Gracie impress you last night with his ability to take Jardine down and keep him there? How far do you think he can go in the Strikeforce middleweight division?