When the UFC notified Keith Jardine that his next assignment would waiting for him in the land down under, the light heavyweight immediately started preparing for his UFC 110 foe, but just one thing, who’s this Ryan Bader kid anyway?
“I didn’t even know who Ryan Bader was when he was first mentioned to me by the UFC,” Jardine told MMAFighting.com. “It took me a little while to realize who they wanted me to fight. All I heard was that they wanted me to appear in Australia and that was all I needed to hear. That was all my incentive right there. It didn’t matter who was in the other corner facing me.”
Thankfully, someone alerted the Jackson Submission Fighting-trained athlete that Bader stakes claim to a perfect 10-0 record and is one of the division’s fastest rising stars. Although “The Ultimate Fighter 8” winner wrestled his way to the finals, he showed explosive standup in capturing the six-figure UFC contract.
“He’s a great wrestler, but he likes to stand up and box,” Jardine said. “I give him credit for that. He’s pretty one-dimensional on the whole, but he’s pretty good at the one dimension he has.”
Although the 26-year-old Bader has shown drastic improvement with his hands since his days on TUF 8, his last two victories were a pair of unanimous decisions. That’s a trend Jardine expects to come to an abrupt end this Saturday inside the Acer Arena in Sydney, Australia.
“I definitely see Bader trying to stand up and fight. I don’t know for sure, but I can see him trying to prove a point by standing with me,” Jardine said. “I don’t expect to see him do much wrestling at all. I would absolutely love for him to stand and fight with me. That’s the perfect fight for me.”
Having lost three of his last four scraps, including two straight, there aren’t many UFC 205-pounders that need a win as desperately as Jardine. Once considered a hopeful contender to the crown, Jardine is now simply looking to extend his Octagon career.
“He’s undefeated and unproven and so we don’t really know how good he is or how good he’s going to be. For all we know he could end up being as good as some of the great fighters I’ve fought,” Jardine said. “I don’t think so – but we don’t know for sure yet. We’re just waiting to find out about him.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’m just going to go there and fight my fight. I don’t have any points to prove. I’m not overlooking him at all and know that I’ll need to be at my best.”