- Brett Okamoto, ESPN Staff Writer
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LAS VEGAS -- During an open workout Wednesday at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, former UFC light heavyweight Keith Jardine told reporters his first-ever weight cut to 185 pounds had been easy -- so far.
Jardine (17-9-2), already looking visibly thin, admitted he still has 15 pounds to cut between now and Friday’s official weigh-in for his Strikeforce middleweight title fight against Luke Rockhold on Saturday.
To make the weight, Jardine enlisted the help of nutritionist Mike Dolce. The fighter said the drop has him feeling healthier and younger; however, he decided against executing a full-practice cut.
Meaning, if and when Jardine makes the 185-pound weight limit Friday, it will literally be the first time he’s been that light since his freshman year of high school.
“I’ve got quite a bit more to go -- about 15 pounds,” Jardine told ESPN.com. “This last year has been about faith. I put my trust in Dolce and he says I’m ahead of schedule right now.
“You look at the guys he works with and they say they feel the best ever. I’m not worried [about the cut]. I’m just excited.”
The number 15 itself isn’t necessarily cause for alarm. In fact, Rockhold (8-1) says he typically cuts up to 16 pounds during the final two days before a weigh-in as well.
What is potentially alarming is that Rockhold has a very good understanding of how his body reacts to cutting to 185. Jardine is flying somewhat blind into a championship fight slated for five rounds.
“We’ll see where he’s at,” Rockhold said. “It’s a different world making 185. It’s 20 pounds lighter than he’s ever made. He already looks like [He-Man villain] Skeletor at 205.
“I’m a little surprised [he didn’t practice cut]. It seems like he’s confident he can make the weight. Five rounds plays into my favor. As much as I don’t want to go five rounds, the longer this fight goes, the more one-sided it’s going to be.”
Rest assured, Jardine will do everything in his power to make the weight as this title fight has been -- to him and many others -- an unexpected opportunity.
The 10-year veteran has fought some of the biggest names in MMA, but has yet to compete for a belt. Getting the shot now, in a new weight class and with a 0-1-1 record in Strikeforce, was like a breath of fresh air to his career.
A mere two fights ago, Jardine felt he had hit rock bottom.
“I think I was in a pretty bad place,” said Jardine, on the four-fight losing streak that ended his run with the UFC in 2010. “It might have been a blessing the UFC let me go because it gave me a chance to start over.
“I went to the bottom after that. I went to the Dominican Republic in front of 100 people for a fight nobody got paid for. It was a mess.”
Jardine, 36, knows it struck many people, including Rockhold, odd that Strikeforce would grant him a title shot at this specific point in his career, but he’s not going to apologize for jumping at the opportunity.
His decision to drop to middleweight was geared toward reinventing himself. If he successfully cuts those 15 pounds and pulls off the upset over Rockhold, consider it mission accomplished.
“He doesn’t want this fight,” Jardine said. “I’m a scary fight for him. I don’t think Luke has been in a dirty fight yet. He’s a real clean fighter. He likes to keep his distance and pick guys apart.
“Look at all my fights. You’re going to get tired, bloody, dirty. I’m going to turn it into a brawl. I’m not a good matchup for him.”