Don’t Look Past K.J. Noons

On November 10, 2007, K.J. Noons stepped into the cage with one of the most dangerous fighters in MMA – Nick Diaz. Noons was a relatively unknown fighter at the time, while Diaz had already faced off with some of the greatest athletes in the sport.

On paper, the more experienced Diaz should have annihilated Noons in spectacular fashion. But it didn’t happen that way. Noons thoroughly handled Diaz with beautiful boxing before the fight was controversially stopped from a cut, giving Noons the biggest victory of his career.

Now, three years later the two will finally settle the score, but this time it’s for the Strikeforce welterweight championship currently held by Diaz.

The irony? Diaz is heavily favored going into the bout.

It isn’t surprising. Diaz has been far more dominant since the original bout, beating names like Frank Shamrock, Scott Smith, “Mach” Sakurai and Takanori Gomi. Noons only recently returned to MMA after a stint competing solely in boxing.

But styles really do make fights. To say that Noons has no chance of beating Diaz again is absurd, and it’s even more ridiculous for Diaz to say that Noons isn’t on his level as a fighter. A lot has changed since the first fight and neither fighter is the same.

Diaz isn’t on Noons’ level as a boxer. I’m not saying that Noons would be able to compete against the likes of Floyd Mayweather, but he has an 11-2 record as a boxer. He brings a boxing pedigree into the cage that is nearly unmatched by most mixed martial artists. Noons has excellent takedown defense as well – something that Diaz learned the hard way during the first fight.

I understand why Diaz is being favored. He fights better when he’s angry. He’s a black belt. His boxing has improved by leaps and bounds. But if he thinks it’s good enough to stand with Noons, he’s going to be in for a painful night while Noons picks him apart and captures the welterweight championship.

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