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Facepalm of the Day: ESPN’s Franklin McNeil Gives Keith Jardine the Edge over Gegard Mousasi

(Well, that explains it.)

When message board commenters gush about how much better The Ultimate Fighter alumni are than the rest of the fighters in their respective division, we typically just give the little TUF noobs a proverbial pinch on the cheek and dismiss their uninformed opinions as being asinine as a result of the impeccable job the UFC and SPIKE did convincing them its true.

But when a so-called MMA expert like Franklin McNeil continually gives the edge to fighters who have appeared on the reality show in bouts against fighters who are widely considered more skilled and are thus ranked accordingly, it makes us shake our heads in disbelief that ESPN, the leader in sports coverage, gives this guy a forum to spew his skewed view of the sport under the guise of journalism. We may print a ton of opinion pieces here, but CagePotato isn’t proclaiming to be the CNN of MMA coverage and we’re clear in stating that editorials contain (sometimes cynically humorous) bias and are not to be taken as fact or even seriously in some cases. ESPN, however, is a different animal than CP.

Josh Gross, you have our sympathy.

In his latest pro-TUF puff piece, boxing-writer-turned-MMA-Analyst McNeil statesmatter-of-factly that Keith Jardine is likely to beat Gegard Mousasi at this weekend’s Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley event because he’s simply a better fighter. The problem isn’t his opinion that Jardine is a better fighter, it’s the fact that McNeil actually tried to justify it by pointing out irrelevant points like, “Jardine has faced stiffer competition than Mousasi,” and “He’s more motivated because he wants to go back to the UFC.”

Why not add in there that he does a better TechnoViking imitation and grows a better goatee for good measure?

“Looking strictly at Keith Jardine’s past four UFC bouts — all losses — it is easy to dismiss him Saturday night against Gegard Mousasi. To do so, however, would be a big mistake — both for fans and foe. “The Dean of Mean” has found the old spring in his step and, more importantly, a fresh mental outlook at the future. After his release from UFC, Jardine fought three times. He lost the first, but fine-tuned his stand-up game and rebounded with two wins in a row. It wasn’t the wins that breathed new life into Jardine, however, but an unrelenting desire to get back in UFC. He just needed to get the attention of UFC’s decision-makers. His break came a few days ago when UFC matchmaker Joe Silva offered him a chance to fight Mousasi on the Strikeforce main card. The timing and matchup couldn’t have been better; Mousasi’s fighting style is tailor-made for Jardine,” McNeil wrote.

Besides, there is nothing Mousasi will show Jardine that he hasn’t already seen in the cage. Jardine has faced more-skilled fighters than Mousasi.”

Sure Jardine may have faced better competition than Gegard, but he hasn’t beaten anyone better than he is. The same can’t be said for Mousasi.

Lets compare:

Jardine has two wins in his past seven fights over the past two years. His biggest wins came against Wilson Gouveia (unanimous decision), Forrest Griffin (TKO), Chuck Liddell (split decision) and Brandon Vera (split decision). Mousasi has only lost once in the past three years and has beaten Denis Kang (submission), Hector Lombard (decision), Evangelista Santos (TKO), Melvin Manhoef (submission), Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (KO), Renato “Babalu” Sobral (KO), and Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou (TKO).

And to say that Jardine’s herky-jerky style of stand-up is tailor made to beat Mousasi — a well-rounded fighter with no particular weaknesses besides being able to get out from underneath a bigger wrestler — is somewhat of a stretch, considering the fact that Gegard has beaten much more technical strikers in the past.

The OJ glove of McNeil’s non-sensical case he put together for a Jardine is his argument that because Keith was working on cutting weight to compete at middleweight he will not need to cut weight for the bout.

“Two more things favor Jardine: motivation and weight. Jardine was eager to accept this fight on short notice because making the 205-pound limit is a nonissue. He will make weight easily for Saturday night’s bout, and it could likely be his last at 205. Jardine has not been this excited about a fight in years. He’s driven to not squander this opportunity to get back under the Zuffa banner and bank account. Don’t be surprised Saturday night to see the Keith Jardine who took UFC by storm in 2005-06.

So being smaller than Mousasi is an advantage for Jardine? Interesting concept.

If beating Kerry Schall, Mike Whitehead, Forrest Griffin and Wilson Gouveia is what constitutes taking the UFC by storm, then I guess it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that we’re the darlings of the MMA world.

At least McNeil’s fellow ESPN columnist, Brent Okamoto has a grasp of reality.

“Coming off back-to-back wins for the first time since 2006, Jardine has managed to fight his way back into mixed martial arts relevance — but only by a thread. He’s light years away from the “Dean of Mean” who started off 4-1 in the UFC, which included a first-round finish of Forrest Griffin.
Effort and dedication aren’t the problems for Jardine. Even at 35, coach Greg Jackson says he’s still developing, and he’s certainly staying active. Saturday’s Strikeforce bout with Gegard Mousasi will mark his fourth in just seven months.

The problem is that Jardine has lost what initially made him very successful in this sport — the element of surprise. Although he was never a marvel to watch from a technical standpoint, his unorthodox stand-up made him a nightmare to prepare for.

But at some point — around 2007 — people figured out how to fight him. Unorthodox can be a good thing, but it can also include a few bad habits — habits that can be exploited by somebody who’s well prepared.”


Cagepotato Comments

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asdlin- April 9, 2011 at 12:58 am
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fatbellyfrank- April 8, 2011 at 1:58 am
@ Darkhorse, Oh jesus no, can you imagine the leg crossing scene?
fatbellyfrank- April 8, 2011 at 1:57 am
^ Yeah, being serious for two seconds, I'm sorry but I don't see anything but another loss for jardine, which kinda sucks cause i've always liked him as a fighter, I just agree with chromium and think Mousasi has the edge in every department, the Dean may hava punchers chance, but I just dont see it happening either
Chromium- April 8, 2011 at 12:39 am
"I’ll prolly catch hell for this but I agree with Franklyn McNeil. We all saw how horrible Gegard is off his back when he “fought” King Mo. Guaranteed Keith will take him down relentlessly a la Greg Jackson and grind one out, and I will be in the arena to watch it live."

King Mo was an alternate for the U.S. Olympic wrestling team, a Division I All-American, and has represented the U.S. internationally in free-style wrestling. No shit he was able to wrestlefuck Mousasi. That Mousasi was able to keep Mo from overwhelming means he's no scrub on the ground. Keith Jardine has no such wrestling pedigree or any wrestling experience at all prior to MMA. He is mostly a stand-up fighter, and Mousasi should have the advantage both standing and on the ground, and especially in the clinch (he is a judo blackbelt).

Jardine has a weird style so he always has a puncher's chance (and contrary to popular opinion not everyone has "a puncher's chance" in a fight, even in an evenly matched one), but I don't see it happening. To win he'd have to either KO or at least rock Mousasi at some point, a man who has never been knocked out in MMA or kickboxing.
DARKHORSE06- April 8, 2011 at 12:28 am
Oh, and Franklin is the Sharon Stone of MMA commentators. He cheatens anything he touches.
DARKHORSE06- April 8, 2011 at 12:27 am
Jardine needs to get a rematch with that scurity guard he shoved. I think he could totally kick his ass.
Steve W- April 7, 2011 at 10:17 pm
I can't help but recall how Keith Jardine has made a career out of winning fights he was supposed to lose, and vice versa. Here, he is supposed to lose this fight. That means he'll likely wind up winning a split decision over Mousasi. Then, in his next Strikeforce fight, he'll lose to some guy with a 4-7 record from the Challengers series, who takes the fight on four days notice, by KO in 33 seconds. Such is the career of the Dean of Mean.
fatbellyfrank- April 7, 2011 at 8:32 pm
@ Cro cop and waxed pants, I reckon it would be funny as fuck to read an article about waxed pants GF sticking phallus shaped objects and baseballs into his rectum, do we get pictures? and Mcreadyshack, if your girlfriends thumb is not phallus shaped, what the hell was it she stuck up my ass the other night?
noizy- April 7, 2011 at 4:14 pm
Well Franklin is "the UFC Insider". His whole title is based on being biased.
Bivbodies37- April 7, 2011 at 4:12 pm
Jardine put on good fights. But he's far from the level of Mousasi. What's sad is that he does have a puncher's chance. So if he knows out Mausasi this guy will think he was right!
macreadysshack- April 7, 2011 at 4:02 pm
Hey, I'm wrong a lot. If Jardine somehow has what it takes, good for him. I just can't see it. Yes, if Jardine wins, I will abstain from any phallus shaped objects for . . . one week. My gf's thumb is absolutely not phallus shaped.
Nut Puncher 9000- April 7, 2011 at 3:56 pm
Wait so...while i happen to agree with CP and not this guy about who the favorite should be, its not against the rules to have a different opinion. Outside of his better competition remark, Jardine DOES have better training partners, better trainers, better gameplan (ala GJ) and a fucking monster reason to be fired up about winning. Sometimes that is enough when your opponant has been shown to have a glaring weakness.

Taking Mousasi down and holding him down on route to a UD is not out of the realm of possibility...
Waxedpants- April 7, 2011 at 2:40 pm
I'm serious about changing the CP motto though -- mine would clear up a lot of confusion.
Waxedpants- April 7, 2011 at 2:38 pm
your points are solid Crocop -- never let it be said I don't admit when someone makes a good point. When I come to CP if the article or the comments don't make me laugh I just move on. To each their own.
kmax1940- April 7, 2011 at 2:38 pm
what will cage potato say about this guy when Jardine wins the fight??? war jardine!!!
Michael CroCop- April 7, 2011 at 2:37 pm
Exactly my point, just some dong, well said friend.
just some dong- April 7, 2011 at 2:36 pm
You have to understand what it's like being a staff writer for a big corporate entity like ESPN. Sometimes you get to write your own personal opinions - more often, your editor asks you to write very specific content. Whatever that content happens to be, it's your job to supply it. The piece linked to in this article is clearly something that Franklin was asked to write for ESPN's website - one of those lame "your take, my take" pieces. A Ben vs. Ben, you could say. These pieces rely on opposing viewpoints, and F-Mac's bit was to emphasize Jardine's advantages. That's all.
Waxedpants- April 7, 2011 at 2:35 pm
baseballs too but that's only on special occasions
Waxedpants- April 7, 2011 at 2:32 pm
macneil sucks -- we all agree
this article was not presented well -- we all agree
my girlfriend shoves phallus shaped objects into my rectum - we all agree
Michael CroCop- April 7, 2011 at 2:29 pm
@Troof, if you read the article and come out with the idea that he somewhere said that Jardine is going to win I suggest brushing up on your reading comprehension. The article is clearly a position vs position type article where they could have picked any mma journalist to make points for either fighter.
Michael CroCop- April 7, 2011 at 2:27 pm
@Waxedpants, there is nothing humorous about saying a man said something that he didn't say, thus tarnishing his reputation. Would it be funny if I said that you told me you let your girlfriend stick phallus shaped objects into your rectum, then linking a conversation we were having about baseball as proof? Think about it man.
Harry Nips- April 7, 2011 at 2:25 pm
ESPN has been unwatchable for years.Franklin McNeil is a typical hire for them. They hire the biggest fucking morons around. For example: Skip Bayless, Jay Mariotti, Joe Morgan, Woody Page, Sean Salisbury, John Clayton, Stuart Scott, etc. the list goes on & on. I watch MMA Live on DVR just so I can FF everytime McNeil opens his mouth.
Waxedpants- April 7, 2011 at 2:23 pm

I just know this is not where I come for serious reporting and I don't think thats a bad thing. How many mmajunkie's do we need. Maybe two. This isn't one of them but as the sport continues to grow there is a solid niche for a bunch of wise ass jerk offs to talk mma.
That should be the new CP motto --- get rid of " MMA is not a Crime " and change it to " A Bunch of Wise Ass Jerk Offs Talk about MMA"
Troof- April 7, 2011 at 2:16 pm
Wait. So MacNeil writing an article about how Jardine has the edge over Mousassi and then contradicting everything he wrote by flip flopping and picking Gegard to win in another article makes whoever wrote this a bad reporter? Cool beans.
Waxedpants- April 7, 2011 at 2:13 pm
Oh come on CroCop ..... this is not the website for reporting integrity. It's a fucking humor/mma site and a lot of us love it. Go to mmaflunkie if you want straight reporting.

Maybe there should be a little disclaimer window that pops up when you enter the site telling the tight assess that they should lighten up before reading anything.