Noons ready to get back to the top
Two weeks before his fight against Jorge Masvidal in June, KJ Noons sat in a restaurant at The Palms in Las Vegas and matter-of-factly talked about his fighting style. Simply put, Noons left little doubt of what he believed his role was in Strikeforce: Fight of the Night, period.
Noons lost to Masvidal, and Masvidal went on to a challenge lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez on Saturday. Noons was left to think about the first losing streak of his career thanks to back-to-back losses to Nick Diaz in a welterweight title fight and Masvidal in one that would’ve gotten him a crack at the lightweight belt.
But Saturday, Noons (11-4, 3-2 Strikeforce) won a unanimous decision over Billy Evangelista in San Diego a couple hours before watching Melendez-Masvidal and he perhaps realized he needs a dual goal: Exciting fights, yes – but also ones that leave him with his hand raised.
“I really had to change my camp up because you’ve got to win,” Noons said at Saturday’s post-fight press conference. “I want to put on a show, but you’ve got to win sometimes.”
Noons needed a round to get his rhythm Saturday, but was strongest in the second and third against Evangelista, who also was coming off a loss to Masvidal. The fight was tight throughout, though, and Noons said he and Evangelista decided to forgo any takedown attempts late in an effort to steal the round in favor of standing and banging – just what Noons likes to do.
“A lot of my fights, we’re always talking in the ring,” Noons said. “But this wasn’t (trash) talking this time. The last 30 seconds, he said, ‘Let’s just stand and bang and give the fans a fight.’ I said, ‘Seriously?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, no takedowns.’ I said, ‘You promise?’ And he said, ‘I promise.'”
Though Masvidal landed strikes at a higher percentage than Noons and landed more significant strikes in FightMetric’s tally, Noons landed a few more with authority to get the close unanimous decision.
And though Noons said afterward he realizes the importance of walking away with a win, his mentality remains the same.
“I just take whoever Strikeforce throws at me and I get better as a fighter,” Noons said. “I put on fights for the fans, every single time. I always put on the best fight of the night, every time. I just want to get better as a fighter and put on more exciting fights. No matter what, you’re going to get your money’s worth when KJ Noons shows up. But I want to be the best and get on a winning streak and get back to putting on good shows.”