Exclusive K.J. Noons Interview

In just over a year and a half, KJ Noons went from being an unknown fighter who got knocked out on the first EliteXC event to the promotions deposed champion. The series of events put Noons on the mixed martial arts map to the point where, upon the fall of EliteXC, speculation regarding Noons future ran wild. Would he sign with the UFC, or would he go to Strikeforce? The latter ultimately won out, but not before Noons returned to his combat sports roots: boxing.

Now, with nearly identical records of 8-1 in boxing and 8-2 in MMA, Noons has returned to the latter. His return in Strikeforce, though successful, was not up to Noons standard of entertainment. It’s the desire to entertain and his passion for combat sports that makes Noons the fighter that he is. Those same qualities provide Noons with the motivation to re-assert himself as a top lightweight and prove once again that he is a better fighter than former challenger and current Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz.

First things first: Noons will face Conor Heun on Wednesday’s Strikeforce event in conjunction with the 2010 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). In our interview, Noons discussed his fight against Heun, his return to MMA from boxing, his experience with video games, and how he thinks he stacks up in both the Strikeforce Lightweight division and against rival Diaz.

Heavy.com: How has your training been for this fight?

K.J. Noons: It’s going great, man. This is probably one of the best training camps I’ve ever had. Great conditioning, great shape, just getting better and getting ready for the fight on the 16th.

Heavy.com: How is this camp different from previous camps?

K.J. Noons: Oh, I just try to switch it up. Every training camp you just try to make it a better camp and fine tune your skills, so you take whatever from last camp and try to get better.

Heavy.com: How are you affected by the late change of opponent from Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett to Conor Heun?

K.J. Noons: I don’t care. It doesn’t matter, man. I kind of at the beginning just mentally prepared myself for maybe Charles wasn’t going to come through. Who knows, because he always has things going on, so I kind of prepared myself mentally already. It’s not a big deal. Whether its him or anyone else, I train like it’s a title fight anyway. I think people are always gunning for me.

Heavy.com: Do you want to avenge the loss to Bennett?

K.J. Noons: I want to avenge the loss. Of course I want to avenge that. It’s just that, knowing Charles, you just don’t know. I’m not surprised. I’m disappointed. Maybe we can make that match in the future happen. But you know, we’ve got Connor and I’ve been training hard to move forward and go into that fight now.

Heavy.com: How did training change when the opponent changed?

K.J. Noons: I always laugh, because when I fight, I guarantee you you’re going to get your money’s worth. When K.J. Noons fights, it doesn’t matter who I fight. I’m going to put on a show for you, I’m going to put on a show for everybody, I’m going to put on a show for myself. I’m a fan of fighting. I like to watch good fights, I like to put on good fights. I like to fight. People are going to want to watch.

Heavy.com: Do you have a sense of the entertainment value of your fight while you’re in the middle of the fight?

K.J. Noons: Of course! I’m getting paid to fight! Are you kidding me?

Heavy.com: But you understand that not every fighter feels the same way you do, right?

K.J. Noons: That’s because they aren’t real fighters. [They’re] dorks from high school that got picked on and could wrestle, and now they want to fight when they’re 18 [years old]. I come from a family of fighting. I should have come out of business school and made a lot of money. Instead I chose my passion, something I love, something I’ve been doing my whole life. I love the sport. I love muay thai, I love boxing, I love MMA. I just like the art of fighting.

Heavy.com: What is your plan to keep your MMA career balanced against your boxing career?

K.J. Noons: Variety is great. I still have a goal in boxing, but with the whole dissolving of EliteXC, I just felt like this was a good time to come back with Strikeforce. They’re still going to let me box if I want to, but I want to show them that I’m committed, and whatever fights they want [for me], I want to stay busy. As long as they keep me busy, I’ll keep fighting in MMA, and whenever I want to switch back [to boxing], I’ll switch back. But I would love to do a crossover down the line and do a match between and MMA champ and a boxing champ like [the UFC is] going to do with James Toney and Randy [Couture]. Until then, if that comes up, great. If not, I’ll just keep fighting in MMA and just keep building my record and hopefully get a real title shot somewhere down the line.