Lightweights battle in co-main event Saturday
Title belts are important, but they aren’t the only thing that matters to K.J. Noons.
The former Elite XC champion has worked diligently to expand his game from his boxing foundation to become a well-rounded mixed martial artist, and the progression of his skills are top priority in his career. He will get to see if all his hard work pays off when he faces Josh Thomson on Saturday night in the co-main event of Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey.
“At this stage of the game, if you aren’t good at everything then you can’t compete with the best,” Noons told HeavyMMA. “Fighters are getting so good these days. I had to change things up and improve my all-around game. I changed up my training camp, got with Jeff Clark and did the things I needed to get back in the win column.”
Stylistically, the matchup between Noons and Thomson is set to deliver fireworks. Both have a history of putting on Fight of the Night-worthy performances, and Noons believes this fight will be another for the history books.
“I think it’s a very exciting matchup,” Noons said. “It’s going to be one of the most exciting fights of the night. He’s a grinder. He is good all around, but at some point he is going to have to want to win the fight. He can’t mix it up the entire time and eventually he will have to go for a submission, and that’s where I have to be ready to turn things around on him.
“I think the long layoff will be a factor. I’ve come out of MMA a couple of times with big surgeries and whatnot, but it does play a factor. Ring rust definitely has an affect on your performance – at least it has been for me – and I feel it will be an advantage in this fight. Every time I stay busy, I get on a hot streak. I’m coming into this fight right after my last, and that is where I feel I’m at my best. It’s when I wait a long time that things get difficult.”
While Strikeforce hasn’t officially announced the bout as a title eliminator, it is very possible the winner will get the next shot at champion Gilbert Melendez. A potential matchup between Noons and Melendez has been lingering for some time, but Noons isn’t certain how things will work out.
“I don’t know if a win will get me the title shot,” Noons said. “There are a lot of factors, and I think it depends on how well I perform in the fight. There are also a couple of guys on the undercard, like Pat Healy and Carlos Fodor, who are fighting for title contention as well.
“Becoming a champion is more of a personal goal for me. I want to show people I can do it again and that I can compete with the best. You only have a short amount of time in your life to compete, and I want to make sure I get it all out before I’m too old and fragile and end up beat up.”