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Luke Rockhold will defend his Strikeforce middleweight strap against Keith Jardine. | Photo: Dave Mandel


Keith Jardine will likely meet Luke Rockhold for the Strikeforce middleweight title on Jan. 7, as “The Dean of Mean” makes his 185-pound debut to kick off 2012.

Sherdog.com confirmed the matchup with a source close to the bout on Friday after first reporting Jardine's participation in the event on Thursday night. MMAFighting.com initially reported the expected Rockhold-Jardine title pairing.

While not officially announced by the promotion, the event is expected to go down at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas. Sherdog confirmed Sunday with the Nevada State Athletic Commission that Zuffa has requested permission to use the facility on the aforementioned date. The event is expected to air on premium cable network Showtime.

Jardine, 36, has posted two wins, a loss and a draw since receiving his release from the UFC last year. During his time with the promotion, the Jackson’s MMA export posted a record of 6-7, beginning his Octagon career 6-3 before dropping four straight fights. After suffering a split decision loss to Trevor Prangley, Jardine would earn consecutive victories before stepping up on short notice to replace an injured Mike Kyle in April, fighting Dream champion Gegard Mousasi to a majority draw.

Nine years younger than his challenger, Rockhold returned from an extended injury layoff in September, outpointing reigning Strikeforce champion Ronaldo Souza to capture the promotion's middleweight strap. The American Kickboxing Academy standout has not lost since stumbling in his second career outing, stringing together seven consecutive wins in the Strikeforce cage. The 27-year-old holds six of his eight career victories by submission and owns notable wins over Paul Bradley, Jesse Taylor and Corey Devela.

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