Anatomy of a Flaw: Keith Jardine's Striking Defense

via www.mmadailypunch.com

Keith Jardine jumped at the chance to be the last minute replacement at Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley. He will be facing former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi after an injury forced Mike Kyle off the card. Jardine fought thirteen times in the UFC Octagon, finding success against such big names as Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin. Starting at UFC 96 he would go on a four fight losing streak that would see him cut from the promotion. Kyle's injury finds Keith back fighting under the Zuffa umbrella, now riding a two fight win streak.

The major flaw in Jardine's game that most feel Mousasi will be able to exploit is a "weak" chin and tendency to get blasted by the hooks of strikers. Gegard has solid striking skills and, at least on paper, should be able to get one of his punches through Jardine's porous defense.

After the jump we'll go heavy on the GIFs to show that the problems for Jardine on his feet stem not from a bad chin but from lazy defense.

We'll start with the fight between Jardine and Quinton Jackson. In the second round Jardine's patented "awkward" striking comes back to bite him as Rampage pushes forward with strikes. Keith throws a few return strikes but gets very lazy about throwing a right hand from his hip and not protecting his chin, allowing Rampage to drop him with a left hook:

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At the very end of the third round Jardine gets lazy again, this time leaving his left hand low:

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Basically, Jardine knows he is chinny and in being "awkward" he can't afford to leave his hands waist high. Some fighters with rare speed and reflexes can get away with it, but Jardine is not that guy. Against Keith, any decent striker is going to see that as an invitation to fire away.

Against Thiago Silva he appeared to keep his hand a bit higher at the point he gets knocked out, but closer inspection reveals far too much distance between his right hand and his chin, allowing Silva to hook around it and drop him:

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Against good strikers and at the highest level any small bit of laziness in your defense costs you dearly. And a massive bit of laziness got him knocked out cold against Ryan Bader. I don't think it requires description to see where this went wrong:

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I'm sure the jumping knee to the ribs didn't feel good but that's no reason for him to keep his right hand dangling after he hits the cage. Hands down + chin sticking out = naptime.

Jardine absolutely has the ability to beat Mousasi, especially if he can keep him clinched up and try to put Gegard on his back. But he can not afford to leave his hands low and not protect his chin against a guy with power in both hands. The fight, and any remaining chances of Keith being relevant at light heavyweight depend on it.

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