UFC Veterans Keith Jardine, Sokoudjou Take Big Career Steps Back at Shark Fights 13, Paul Daley Narrowly Escapes Same Fate

Trevor Prangley ended Keith Jardine's hopes for a quick return to the UFC at Shark Fights 13. Photo by Dave Mandel via Sherdog.

Keith Jardine went to Amarillo, Texas and lost his fifth straight fight to a puffed up middleweight in Trevor Prangley. Leading up to the bout, Jardine spoke of nothing but his desire to notch an impressive win and get a quick ticket back to the UFC. Those plans will have to be put on hold for now.

Jardine specifically avoided talking to Strikeforce because he didn't want to get cross-ways with the UFC brass by working for their sole remaining major competitor. Now that he lost a decision to Prangley, Jardine may no longer have an option open with Strikeforce and instead may be consigned to the MMA wilderness looking for a win somewhere, anywhere.  

There's no doubt that Prangley remains a top-notch MMA fighter, but Keith Jardine desperately needed a win to get his career back on track. Instead the Jardine train is completely and utterly derailed. As desperate as Strikeforce is for light heavyweights, he should only need to pick up a win or two to be attractive to them. Hell, as desperate as Strikeforce has been, they might sign him off six straight losses anyway.

Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou came into his Shark Fights bout against Houston Alexander with less lofty ambitions.4-4 since being cut by the UFC, the 26 year old fighter has hung on to little of the luster he had as a 23 year old coming into the UFC as a top 10 fighter. That was after he burst into the LHW top 10 with back-to-back KO wins over PRIDE stars Antonio Rogerio "Little Nog" Nogueira and Ricardo Arona.

But Sokoudjou has completely failed to develop as a fighter. After he shocked Nog and Arona with quick KO wins, other fighters have learned that he has little to offer after the initial blitz. Tonight he again faded after dominating early in the fight against Alexander. But when he couldn't finish him in the first, he quickly faded in the second and Alexander wasted little time in hurting and then finishing him once he was gassed. Of course a pair of illegal headbutts and some hair pulling helped Alexander too.

For his part, recent UFC contender and current #10 welterweight in the USAT/SBN Consensus MMA Rankings, Paul Daley narrowly escaped a loss in Amarillo. Earlier this week he was doing interviews scorning the UFC and talking up his desire for a fight against Strikeforce champ Nick Diaz, tonight he found himself digging deep for a late come back against Jorge Masvidal.

The veteran Masvidal is a tough fighter, but as a puffed up lightweight who couldn't make it to the finals of the Bellator tournament, he's not somone who should be giving Daley so much trouble.

The thing is, for fighters like Jardine, Sokoudjou and Daley, who have fallen from the sport's top promotion, that next step down is a doozy. MMA is a merciless binary system. In every fight, someone has to lose. Taking a big pay cut and fighting for a much smaller audience doesn't guarantee any drop in competition levels. Nor does it guarantee a win. And once you've lost at Shark Fights, it's going to be very hard to claw your way back to the top.

Jonathan Snowden's interview with Chris Wilson showed the difficulties a fighter faces once he falls from the major promotion perch. Wilson, a UFC veteran who hasn't been able to find a fight since being cut in late 2009. Here's Wilson:

 It's not really abnormal but it seems more and more that everyone wants you to get some wins before they consider giving you a fight. If, for example, Bellator, Shine, MFC, Tachi Palace, SharkFights, Strikeforce, Sengoku, and Dream say "Get some wins," then where exactly do I fight to get some wins. Is a fighter who has made it into the UFC but hasn't broken top 10 not good enough for an upper-level or mid-level promotion? It doesn't make a lot of sense. It's almost sad really, that after leaving the UFC you have to start all the way back at zero in Mom'n'Pops shows. There are people in those and every organization that are true talents and deserve to be there but some of them would stand little chance against me but I can't fight them because I have losses in the UFC... the UFC. It's frustrating to say the least.     

Shark Fights 13 was an anomaly among regional MMA events. The promoters spared no expense and aimed squarely at a national PPV audience of hard-core MMA fans with a stacked card full of familiar names including nearly 10 UFC veterans. Cards like this are the rarest bird in MMA and certainly not something that fighters can bank on. I'd honestly be astonished to see any of the fighters from this card except Prangley and maybe Houston Alexander return to Amarillo anytime soon. 

It will be very interesting to see where Jardine and Sokoudjou go from here and if they can pick up the pieces of their once brilliant MMA careers.

Shark Fights 13 coverage

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