This sport can be very rough and unforgiving at times. One day, you could find yourself fighting for the biggest promotion in the world. The next, you could be working over 70 hours a week just to pay the bills.
This was the situation UFC veteran Brock Jardine found himself in shortly after his initial UFC run. He had an obligation to earn money and provide a decent living for himself and his family. However, he lost both fights in the UFC and missed out on half of his potential paycheck in the process. Jardine decided to get a “normal” job. Actually, it ended up being two jobs.
“I worked graves and then working at the restaurant that I used to work at,” Jardine told Combat Press. “I just wasn’t happy at the time, you know. I was working a ton. Money was coming in a little better than before, but I was like, ‘Man, I’m not happy.’”
That amount of workload left very little time for MMA. Jardine had put together a 9-1 run to land himself a UFC contract, and he was a prospect that many thought could make some noise inside the famed eight-sided cage. Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned. Jardine dropped a decision to Rick Story in his Octagon debut and suffered a submission loss to Kenny Robertson in his sophomore appearance with the promotion. He moved on to Titan Fighting Championship, where he continued his skid with a split decision loss to Daniel Roberts and a knockout loss to Steve Montgomery.
He was in a predicament so bad that, at least according to him, it almost made him walk away from the sport. But giving how unhappy he was with his life after getting a taste of the big show lights, it was only a matter of time till Jardine got his fighting mojo back.
“After my last loss last October to Steve Montgomery, I was done,” confessed Jardine. “I had lost four in a row, and if I can’t beat a Daniel Roberts or a Steve Montgomery, then I don’t deserve to be back in the UFC.
“I started talking to some of my friends, and at that point I had just been working for like two months and I hadn’t done any training or anything. I told them, ‘Hey, I think I want to get back to fighting.’ They said if I wanted to fight to just fight, and if I don’t, then don’t fight. Those are true friends.
“A few days later, I ended up quitting my second job and I got back to fighting. I got to the gym and started training and a short-opportunity fight came up and I was in no shape to take a fight. On top of that, my first two fights were against Bellator vets and everything worked out.”
Jardine has posted a 3-0 record with two wins by way of knockout since he suffered the last loss in his four-fight skid. He feels that he is hitting his stride as a professional fighter and hopes to continue that trend when he faces Anthony Smith at Resurrection Fighting Alliance 30 on Friday night.
“The biggest difference this year is that I switched coaches,” said Jardine. “I didn’t necessarily switch training partners, as I still train with a lot of the same guys, like Court McGee, Steven Siler, Ramsey Nijem when he comes to town or I go up there. Right now, I am getting, in my opinion, way better coaching. It is just back to the basics. My coaches, Rob Handley and Pedro Sierra, have been doing it a long time and they are what you call true mixed martial artists. I’m just learning basics, like Muay Thai fundamentals that I missed out on for most of my career.”
Not only does Jardine feel he is getting much better at his game because of the new sets of eyes that are breaking down his game, but he also feels another vital part of MMA has made its way back to him: the fun factor. We hear stories like this almost every day in the sports world, especially at the professional levels. Athletes get into a sport because they enjoy it. Then, once the stakes rise and big money and pressure is on the line, that element disappears rather quickly.
Another layer to the puzzle is the dependence some fighters have on making their living exclusively from fighting, an approach Jardine tried early in his career. That amount of stress on a fighter to win, because losing means getting half the money, can be daunting and can cause some fighters to underperform or try something in a fight they have never drilled before. Jardine has learned from that experience. Now, he can fight a bit more relaxed knowing that he has a steady income to fall back on.
“It’s fun again,” he admitted. “When I’m relaxed and have fun, that is when I can fight at my best. Ramsey has really helped me out with that. Whether it was a mental block or performance anxiety or whatever else you want to call it, he has helped me relax and have fun with it. You put a lot of extra pressure on yourself, especially me because I was doing it full-time for four years, pretty much training and fighting, and you put a lot of pressure on yourself to win. Now I have a real job, as people call it, and I make most of my income that way. So now [it] is back to having fun and learning. I can’t stress enough how fun it’s been this year. Changing gyms and having fun has been the biggest change for me.”
This new approach seems to be working for Jardine. After his past three performances, who could argue with his new philosophy? But like most fighters, his ultimate goal is to make it to the big show and display his skills in front of the biggest audience possible. Whether this approach is good in the long term is still up for debate, but we might soon find the answer as Jardine feels he is getting a big opportunity here to headline one of the biggest developmental promotions the sport has to offer.
“I always wanted to fight in the UFC and I had that opportunity, but unfortunately I came up short,” said Jardine. “Now I am at a much better place and I am on the verge again of having another opportunity with RFA.
“They just want to give top prospects and UFC veterans a platform to get back there. Winning three in a row this year, I got the opportunity to fight for them. And as the main event, I couldn’t be happier. I really feel like after this win I can easily be back in [the UFC], so I am very grateful to be where I am at right now.”
This sport can be rough and unforgiving, but it can also be very rewarding. Jardine has dealt with the struggles. Now, he’s seeking those rewards.