Just how far does rejuvenation outperform ring rust?

It depends on who’s getting asked. When a professional fighter takes a step back for a while, this is always a big question. But it’s never the same outcome from one person to the next.

Some fighters have time off from injuries. Others get an unexpected extra layoff when their scheduled opponent gets injured. Some “vacations” are due to family issues like deceased relatives, newborn children or marital reparations. And, for some, there’s always the issue of burnout. In reality, there are so many reasons that a fighter may be benched that they can’t even be added up on a full set of fingers and toes. However, there are only two ways a fighter can come back. He can either look like crap and show the proverbial ring rust, or he can come back rejuvenated and put on a hell of a performance.

The last time Brock Jardine fought was at UFC 157 in February 2013 against Kenny Robertson. To provide a frame of reference, the most recent numbered event was UFC 172 just a few weeks ago. For the first time in his career, the 28-year-old dropped two in a row. Both defeats came under the UFC banner, and one marked his first submission loss. It was his 12th pro fight in five and a half years, and it was not the showing he expected.

“I gave up my back too much,” Jardine admitted to The MMA Corner. “In my previous fight against [Rick] Story, I was able to give up my back and use it to stand up, like in my wrestling days. I finally ran into somebody that had a little trick up his sleeve to what I normally do. Now, I really make sure, when I grapple, to have a little more jiu-jitsu sense and get to my back and look to stand up or sweep from there, rather than giving up my back to stand up.”

The Robertson fight was an eye-opening experience. Not only did it expose some holes in Jardine’s fight game, but it really caused him to re-evaluate what’s important in both his personal and professional lives. After over a year on the sidelines, the Pit Elevated fighter is ready to get back in the saddle, and it all starts this Friday night at Titan FC 28, live from First Council Casino Hotel in Newkirk, Okla.

For a short time, the Titan organization had gone defunct, but now, under new ownership and management, it has done a great job of building up a stable of former UFC fighters that rivals many of the other smaller rosters. When Titan first picked up Jardine, he and just about everyone else in the MMA community was under the impression that Titan FC 28 was taking place on April 12. As the date neared, though, things changed. It was initially moved to April 25. This threw a wrench in some of Jardine’s plans.

“The only issue I had is that they originally told me April 12, and they pushed it back a couple weeks,” Jardine, who was still slated for the April 25 date at the time of the interview, explained. “For my training camp, it’s actually better that they pushed it back, but for my personal life, I’m going to have to miss my brother’s wedding. He gets married the day before I fight.”

At the time of the original interview, this was a bit of a problem for the young fighter, but it didn’t cause him to lose focus on the task at hand. He just really wanted to be at the wedding with his family and friends. Well, Titan may have been around for years, but all of the kinks hadn’t been worked out yet, and the fight was moved again, this time to May 16. It freed Jardine up so that he was able to make it to the wedding. Now, he has no complaints with the organization.

Jardine (Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog)

Jardine (Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog)

“They’ve been great so far,” Jardine stated. “They’ve been signing a lot of great fighters, and Titan and RFA, I believe, are two that have a UFC-out clause. Their slogan’s ‘Putting Fans and Fighters First.’ They’re definitely not just promoting it, they’re trying to build. There aren’t a whole lot of organizations who are trying to build themselves.”

Jardine’s first Titan opponent is a familiar face. Daniel “Ninja” Roberts is a two-year vet of the UFC who has picked up 11 of his 14 victories by submission, making him very dangerous on the ground. Although they never met inside the Octagon, Roberts and Jardine have actually spent some time together in the past.

“I know he’s from Oklahoma, and he moved back there a few years ago,” Jardine said. “I’ve seen him around UFC events and we’re cordial with each other. It’s not like we’re good friends or anything like that, but we know who each other are, and he’s a very tough opponent. He’s a good grappler, a good wrestler and he’s a finisher. That’s something I’m excited about. His finishing percentage and my finishing percentage are both pretty high. Both of us are going in there looking for a finish, as opposed to fighting 15 minutes.”

Some of Jardine’s fellow training partners from The Pit Elevated have spent some time at Empower Gym in San Francisco. In fact, one of his cornermen, Ramsey Nijem, recently moved his camp out to Empower.

“I’m still at The Pit Elevated in Orem, Utah,” Jardine elaborated. “We’ve had a good relationship with those guys in San Francisco for the last few years. I’ve gone out there and trained before. Court [McGee]’s gone out there before. Even our coach has gone out there with Ramsey and Court. Normally, before we’d go to The Pit with John Hackleman, we’d stop in San Francisco and train there for a few days or a week. Ramsey recently made the move out there to train full-time, but he’s definitely going to be in my corner for my fight.”

While cross-training at Empower Gym one time, Jardine and Roberts actually had a chance to work out together.

“I used to train with [Roberts] on those weeks, years ago,” Jardine said. “He used to train out there in San Francisco.”

Regardless of any past history, Jardine knows that Roberts is a well-rounded fighters, and, regardless of his record, he can be dangerous everywhere.

“Obviously, people look at his record and say, ‘Oh, he’s going to win by submission, so you’re going to keep it on your feet, right?’” Jardine said. “Of course, we’re going to start on our feet, but I’m not big into the whole game-plan thing. I feel if you have a game plan, you’re not following your instincts as much. You worry too much about the game plan, and if you’re following the game plan, and if you’re winning the fight. I’m really just focused on being a better fighter, a better martial artist. Wherever the fight goes, I’ll be ready.”

Jardine is in for a huge battle with an acquaintance, which isn’t unusual in the MMA community. Often, guys have to fight people they are cordial with, and sometimes guys even need to fight their close training partners. It’s just business, and come Friday night, Jardine will be all business for sure.

As for the time off, it’s really not that much more time than Roberts has been on the sideline. The Cesar Gracie fighter has been out of action since June, so it will be nearly a year out for both men. Jardine is far from feeling any ring rust at all. In fact, he chose the rejuvenation route instead.

“I have a whole new attitude on how I approach fighting now,” Jardine intimated. “I’m having a lot more fun with it. I’m not as stressed out. I’m not as worried that I have to win. The only thing I care about is that I go out and perform. If I go out and perform, the wins and losses take care of themselves. I’m just worrying about my performance. That being said, I’m always looking to win. Ideally, I’d like to go 3-0 this year.”

Jardine may have been out, but he’s certainly not down. Refreshed and ready, the pro fighter is chomping at the bit to get back in the saddle and put on the performance of his career at the highly anticipated Titan FC 28 this Friday night.

“I think people should watch this fight, because they’re going to see a whole new Brock. I’m really confident in my fighting abilities. I think that just comes with maturity—I’m getting a little older and just figuring out the important things in life. I changed up my training to where—normally, I train in the afternoon and at night—now I train in the morning and the afternoon, because at night I want to spend time with my daughter. I was feeling bad that I was training at night, and my daughter was running around the gym wanting to hang out. It was kind of stressing me out. I’m having a lot more fun, and I think people will see that in my fight.”

Jardine would like to thank all of his family, friends, coaches, training partners and supporters, including The Pit Elevated, VA Mortgage Leader, Dethrone, Warrior Fuel, Therian Fight Gear, Bam Bam’s BBQ, Riven Athletics and Drussel Chiropractic & Rehabilitation. Follow Brock on Twitter: @BrockJardine

About The Author

Dan Kuhl
Interview Coordinator