Warren County graduate Jardine fighting today in Ultimate Fighting Championship
By Tommy Keeler Jr.
Brock Jardine yearned for competition.
Six months after his wrestling career at Utah Valley State came to an end, the Warren County graduate felt a void in his life. He had been competing for so many years, and he didn't feel like he was ready to stop.
He was already doing a little bit of Mixed Martial Arts fighting, but it was nothing serious. Jardine, who fights Kenny Robertson today as part of Ultimate Fighting Championship 157, decided to put more focus on a possible MMA career.
"I still wanted to compete," Jardine said in a phone interview this week. "So I decided I'd give the MMA thing a try."
It's worked out well for Jardine, who enters this weekend's fight with a 9-2 career record.
Jardine went to Lock Haven University on a wresting scholarship after high school, and one of his teammates was Jamie Varner.
Varner, who later became a World Extreme Cagefighting champion, told Jardine all about MMA and quickly got him hooked on the sport.
Even after Jardine transferred to Utah Valley State, he still would watch MMA and was a fan. On Oct. 27, 2007, he fought his first fight and beat Garrett Griffen with a unanimous decision at Ultimate Combat Experience: Round 28.
When he first got started Jardine said he mostly relied on his wrestling skills, where he was a state finalist for the Wildcats, and tried to get take-downs to gain an edge. However, he knew he was going to have to do more if he wanted to have a successful career.
He won his first six fights even though he wasn't able to do it full-time, and his time preparing for the fights were more limited than he wanted. He was working as a piano mover as a full-time job.
Then on Nov. 20, 2009, Jardine beat WEC vet Dave Terrel at Throwdown V -- Homecoming with a unanimous decision.
It was at that point Jardine, whose nickname is "The Machine," knew he could do this for a living, and made it his goal to do it full-time.
Jardine also worked out at the Pit Elevated in Orem, Utah, known as one of the top workout gyms for MMA fighters around the world.
Jardine said he's been able to train and learn from some of the best in the business through training at the Pit Elevated. He is currently one of four UFC fighters that are part of the Pit Elevated fight team.
Jardine lost his next fight to Tony Ferguson at Champions for Children, but came back with three more wins.
Last June the opportunity of a lifetime came up for Jardine, when he was asked to fight for UFC, for the first time, against veteran Rick Story.
"UFC is the NFL of MMA," Jardine said. "A guy had backed out three weeks before the event, so they asked me if I would fill in. I only had three weeks to get ready. I lost, but I didn't feel like I did too bad."
The event was on FX, as this weekend's fight will be. As he's climbed his way up into the big leagues of MMA, fame has come with it.
He has almost 1,500 followers on twitter, and said he's been surprised by how much fan mail he has been getting.
"It's crazy," Jardine said. "I get a lot of fan mail saying, 'Can you please sign this?' I'm still that kid from Warren County High School that just loves wrestling. I never knew I had so many fans in Brazil. They hit me up on Facebook and twitter and tell me how much they love me and are rooting for me.
"It's an awesome feeling to have fans all over the world."
While he loves his fans around the world, this area still has a very special place in Jardine's heart.
Jardine's family still lives in Front Royal, and he said he tries to come back here at least once a year with his daughter, Tori.
He came back towards the end of 2012 and not only did he visit with family, but also with a couple local wrestling teams.
Strasburg wrestling coach Trey Kirkland, a fellow Warren County wrestler and graduate, is still good friends with Jardine, and said he stopped by and worked with some of the Rams early this season.
"That was a big motivator for our guys, to have a professional athlete in the room," Kirkland said. "He's still giving back and really trying to help out wherever he can."
Jardine said the next day he stopped by Warren County's wrestling practice and was surprised by the reaction he got from the athletes.
"I felt like a celebrity, of course they knew who I was and had heard of me," Jardine said. "They were all excited. I signed more autographs there then I do during a fight week. It was a great feeling.
"I don't look at it as giving back, I just wanted to stop by and wish them good luck. I've been in their shoes. I was a wrestler at Warren County, too."
Kirkland was an eighth grader when Jardine was a senior, but said Jardine was still a huge influence on him. Even after graduating from Warren County, Jardine would come back and help out the younger wrestlers, including Kirkland.
Kirkland said he's always looked up to Jardine, and he even went to watch one of his MMA fights in Atlantic City.
"Another one of our high school teammates, Davey Simmons, and I went [to Atlantic City to see him fight]. It was kind of nice, because it kind of lets you know how he's made it after all the hard work he's put in," Kirkland said. "After the fight we went up and hung out with him and a bunch of his teammates, in a real nice suite. It's kind of cool just to be around that atmosphere and that top level of athletes.
"It kind of motivates me to do better and excel at what I do."
Jardine continues to be a role model with his part-time job. He teaches classes at the Pit Elevated.
"I don't look at it as a part-time job, even though it officially is," Jardine said. "It's another way for me to work on my skills. Teaching others on the proper techniques helps me to stay in shape and helps me become a better fighter."
Jardine said he's excited for this weekend's fight against Kenny Robertson, who is 11-2. Jardine said he expects it to be a good fight.
The competitor in Jardine loves the thrill of the fight, but he said all the hard work leading up to the fight makes him want to come out on top even more.
"It's nerve-wracking, but once they close that cage it's like, 'It's just you and me,'" Jardine said. "For eight weeks you're training, thinking about Kenny Robertson and wondering what he's doing to get ready for the fight. You're thinking about a game plan. You become obsessed with your opponent. You're watching film, doing everything you can to become a better fighter.
"It all comes down to that one night. For those eight weeks I have to make a lot of sacrifices in my life, when it comes to spending time with my girlfriend, my daughter. When you get to the fight, you're going to do anything you can to walk away the winner of the fight."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org