“My next fight will probably be in the summer and I am thinking about Jardine since Jackson is already scheduled to fight (Forrest Griffin),” Liddell said. “I can’t wait around (for Jackson). I love the sport and I think I have a couple years left in me.”
Jardine has been sitting on the bench since his decision victory over Liddell at UFC 76 in September, and we’re guessing that’s because the UFC doesn’t quite know what to do with him; “The Dean of Mean” isn’t enough of a big name to qualify for a title shot yet, but he’s already knocked off Chuck as well as the guy who will challenge for the light-heavyweight belt next, Forrest Griffin. Fights with Wanderlei Silva and Maurico Rua would be good options, but as the UFC’s only remaining superstar, Chuck will probably get what he wants — a chance to redeem himself. And that’s unfortunate, because a Liddell/Jardine rematch is the last thing we’d want to see.
First of all, it isn’t the smartest move for Liddell. It’s not like Jardine caught him with one lucky shot in their first match — he totally solved the puzzle of the Iceman, scoring repeatedly with kicks and dodging Liddell’s power-punches for three straight rounds. Liddell’s style isn’t fluid — he’s basically fought the same way his entire career — and there’s nothing to suggest that a second fight with Jardine wouldn’t go the same way. Liddell should have learned his lesson during his loss to Quinton Jackson at UFC 71: Just because you badly want to avenge a loss doesn’t mean you’re likely to succeed in doing it, especially if your game plan remains exactly the same. And with another loss to Jardine, Liddell’s rep would be badly tarnished.
It’s also an unfair roadblock for Jardine. Beating Chuck again would move him no closer to the light-heavyweight belt, but a loss would negate his previous accomplishment and drop him back to the bottom of the contender pool. In a perfect world, Jardine would take on either Rua or Silva next, then the loser of Jackson/Griffin, then challenge for the belt. But it seems like the UFC’s priorities lie in rebuilding an old star rather than creating a new one. All the talk of Jardine not being “marketable” seems ridiculous to me. Sure, he looks more animal than human, but out of the ring he’s a soft spoken good-guy. Does a UFC fighter have to be a flashy, uncouth asshole to be a star? Discuss.