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UFC 102:

Keith Jardine looking for consistency, not new career

The Dean of Mean’ thinks he can earn top contender status with win over Thiago Silva


Associated Press

Keith Jardine, right, connects with a punch during a UFC fight against Chuck Liddel in Anaheim, Calif., on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2007. Jardine knocked down and upset former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell (20-5) by split-decision at the Honda Center.

Click to enlarge photo

Keith Jardine talks with media members during a workout Wednesday, August 26, 2009 at the Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront in Portland, Ore. Jardine takes on Thiago Silva at UFC 102 Saturday night at the Rose Garden Arena.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Perhaps it’s the thought of countless clogged toilets that keeps him in the gym a little longer each training session.

Or maybe Keith Jardine knows he is in too good of shape to pull off that famous plumber look.

Whatever the reason, “The Dean of Mean” knows his calling is that of a fighter, and if he wants to keep competing on the sport’s grandest stage, he said, he needs to string a few wins together.

“Hey, Keith Jardine cleaned my toilet. That’s my joke. I don’t want to do that. I make my living as a fighter,” said Jardine, only half joking to a group of reporters gathered around him at a workout session at the Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront on Wednesday.

“There’s a big difference between a win and a loss in the UFC. I’m making a comfortable living right now, but I’m definitely fighting for my livelihood.”

While the gritty Jardine, born in Butte, Mont., and known for his hardworking persona, would probably excel in any manual labor or, say, wrench-turning industry, his ultimate goal in the UFC is to become light heavyweight champ.

To regain some of the ground he lost in a closely contested bout to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at UFC 96 in Columbus, Ohio, in March, Jardine will need to defeat Thiago Silva at UFC 102 Saturday night in the Rose Garden Arena.

“I think Thiago is great,” said Jardine of the 13-1 Silva, whose only setback came at the hands of the undefeated Lyoto Machida at UFC 94 in January. “When he was undefeated he was running through everybody. Then he ran into an unstoppable force there. I think it might have been a reality check for him, and he might get back to doing something that he was doing right before.

“I don’t know what to expect. He was a guy I’ve been looking at for a couple of years now, a guy coming up and a guy I would probably have to fight.”

Not that Jardine’s scared of anybody. His big victories over Brandon Vera, Forrest Griffin and Chuck Liddell show that he’s the caliber of fighter to challenge for Machida’s 205-pound belt.

But for every big win of Jardine’s career, there seems to be an equally devastating loss. Setbacks to Houston Alexander, Wanderlei Silva, and the latest to Jackson, demonstrate Jardine’s inconsistent label.

“I need to put together a couple, two, three, four wins in a row and I’ll be on top of the (UFC) with these guys I’m fighting,” said Jardine, who sports a 14-6-1 career mixed martial arts record but who hasn’t won back-to-back fights in three years.

Jardine, who said one of the judges at the Jackson fight told him he lost the close bout in the last 10 seconds when he was knocked down by “Rampage,” knows his only way back to the top is to win in the Octagon.

The Greg Jackson-trainee isn’t going to take the popular vote.

“It has a lot to do with my personality, because I’m kind of like the blue-collar UFC fighter,” said Jardine. “I’m working my way in through the back door. I haven’t been fed any (soft) opponents. I didn’t win the reality show. I’m just making my own way.

“I haven’t been mass marketed to anybody. That’s the thing. The marketing machine hasn’t really gotten behind me. I’m fine with it, but I just think that the Forrest Griffins and those guys, they’d rather have those guys have the title than me.”

But Jardine is not complaining. That’s just his personality, and the way he wants to earn his success.

“They kind of let me go my own way a bit because I’m not out there craving attention and I’m not out there hamming it up for the fans,” Jardine said with a smile. “I’m not being like Brock Lesnar after the fight (at UFC 100). That was embarrassing. I’m not that guy. I never will be. I’ll always be humble and be mean when it counts.”

“I come from a real hard-working background and I don’t think my Dad would think very well of me if I were out there making an ass of myself. I’m just going to be myself and hopefully people will appreciate that. When I have the title, hopefully I will have a lot of fans because of the way I am.”

Andy Samuelson can be reached at [email protected] or 702-948-7837.

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