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If Noons doesn’t accept fight vs. Diaz, he should be stripped of lightweight title

The recent controversy surrounding K.J. Noons and his camp’s refusal to respond to offers for him to defend his EliteXC lightweight title vs. Nick Diaz on Oct. 4 is rather perplexing for two reasons.

First, the lack of communication from Noons just doesn’t sound like him. From a journalistic standpoint, my experience in covering Noons has always been extremely positive. In fact, he’s been one of the best fighters I have dealt with, which says a lot, because few fighters in this industry are tough to work with. But in the past, Noons has always been accessible, responsive, candid, and polite. For there to be a media silence at a time like this is just dumbfounding. That’s not to say that Noons’ camp hasn’t been responsive to the media in this instance, they just aren’t going on the record right now.

I didn’t want to write this opinion piece without getting Noons’ side because I know for a fact that there is more to the story.  Unfortunately, they aren’t ready to speak out right now. The problem is, EliteXC is getting its side of the story out and it is not favorable to Noons’ image. In fact, Noons is being portrayed as someone who is ducking Diaz.

I don’t for a second believe Noons is ducking Diaz but I can’t blame those who are reading the situation as such. And if that perception is correct, it only adds to my confusion. I saw the first fight between the two last November and the Diaz camp can spin the fight however they want, but Noons dominated him. It wasn’t even close. The fight didn’t end because of a cut — it ended because of three cuts! A fighter never likes to have someone else decide their fate, but the doctor in question should have lost his license to practice medicine had he not stopped the fight.

If there was a rematch, I see a similar outcome. Noons has worked hard to become a complete fighter but his skills on the ground are very unproven. In talking to those who have trained with him, his ground game has been described as solid but far from spectacular. But his ground game has yet to come into question because Noons has developed a solid sprawl that has allowed him to keep his fights standing. And when it comes to his standup, he has Gomi-like skills on his feet. I’m sure some people will dispute that last statement but the facts are that Noons is extremely underrated and is one of the heaviest hitters around at lightweight.

Diaz is a good combination puncher but Noons is a good combination puncher with power. His body shots really hurt Diaz in their first meeting and Noons’ hand speed and foot work allowed him to counter Diaz’s reach advantage to a point where Diaz took too much damage to be allowed to continue. If Diaz can’t get Noons off his feet, he can’t win. From a tactical perspective, Noons has no reason not to take the rematch against Diaz. If you disagree with that statement then you need to wake up and watch their first fight over again.

Noons has had a lot of trouble living down his devastating knockout loss against Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett during EliteXC’s first-ever show in February of 2007. He was promoted heavily at the time by Gary Shaw and SHOWTIME and resentment from hardcore fans was created when he failed to deliver. But since that time he’s been dominant in wins over Diaz, Edson Berto, and Yves Edwards. While Noons may not be a top-ten lightweight, he has the talent to one day earn such a designation within one of the sport’s deepest divisions.

In addition to the loss to Bennet, I think a lot of resentment exists because of his looks and his demeanor. He’s a nice guy who doesn’t have a particularly rugged look. I think to judge him based on such trivial nonsense is ridiculous and I don’t for a second believe that Noons is scared of anyone. This is a guy who has trained in martial arts since he was a child and has fought tough opponents since turning to MMA. As a professional boxer, he’s 8-1. Noons is a true competitor and has a fighter’s heart. In fact, fighting is in his blood, as his father was a competitive kickboxer. However, action speaks louder than words and the decision by Noons’ camp not to address the situation publicly or even privately, speaks volumes.

Noons is squandering a tremendous opportunity. If this is a money play, then his camp is employing an ill-advised strategy. It’s hard for an employer to meet your demands if you’re not clearly laying those demands out for them. It’s also hard to increase your market value as a fighter if the UFC is not interested in you. A lot of people were surprised when they found out that EliteXC is paying Antonio Silva $200,000 per fight but that was the price that had to be paid in order to retain him. Silva re-signed with EliteXC soon after Joe Silva issued favorable comments regarding “Big Foot” during a public Q&A prior to the UFC’s event in the UK this past January. Once it was established that the UFC was a realistic option for Silva, EliteXC had to pay a premium to keep him.

I believe Noons is good enough to compete in the UFC at 155 lbs. but the UFC has a lot of depth at lightweight and the promotion would be unlikely to offer him a great deal of money if he were to suddenly become available. It’s hard to negotiate with the UFC if you don’t have leverage. That’s a statement that can apply to any situation, but it especially applies to the UFC. In many cases, their offers are issued in a take it or leave it manner. The fighters who have been able to come in with good deals were the ones who had multiple options.

Noons’ options would increase if he successfully defended his title against Diaz on national television. If he fights on SHOWTIME, anywhere between 150,000-350,000 people will see him fight. On CBS, that number could be anywhere between 2 million to 6 million people. Such exposure can only help his market value and if Noons wants to command more money, he needs to go on CBS and create more leverage for himself.

Rarely do I side with a company when it comes to a dispute with a fighter because I believe fighters make incredible sacrifices and only have so much time to make money. Fighters don’t get medical insurance and they don’t have a 401K. Their shelf-like is limited so they need to earn as much as they can while they can. However, EliteXC has invested a lot of promotional money and time behind Noons. And Noons vs. Diaz II is a feud that has gotten a lot of people excited. It’s a depserate time for EliteXC and they need the fight to happen on Oct. 4 when they go head-to-head against college football on ABC and the Major League Baseball playoffs on FOX. Unless something major happens soon regarding EliteXC’s financial fortunes, Oct. 4 could be Noons’ last chance to fight on primetime network television.

I consider the real number one contender to the EliteXC lightweight title to be Eddie Alvarez. Perhaps Noons’ camp feels the same way. The thing is, EliteXC has named Diaz its number one contender. Fighters and fans do not get a say when it comes to promotional rankings. As a champion, Noons needs to answer the call and defend his title against the number one contender as determined by the promotion. If he refuses to defend his title then EliteXC needs to give some serious consideration towards stripping him of the title and having Diaz fight another opponent for the vacant belt. If Noons doesn’t want to take the Diaz fight, maybe Alvarez will. Alvarez is getting married this month and wants to take time off. However, if there was a title on the line and it was worth his while to come back sooner than expected, perhaps he’d be willing to change his plans?

24 COMMENTS
  • Dave says:

    Noons playing this game now is not a good move. He’s basically d*cking over elitexc in the time when they need him most. Maybe his agent feels that now’s the time to get more money, when Elitexc has it’s back against the wall amid lower ratings and financial issues. This next show has got to be blockbuster to keep the company chugging along.

    Alvarez being the number 1 contender (rightfully) should be a non-issue. Who the heck named KJ Noons in charge of ranking or matchmaking? Do you see anderson silva putting up a stnk on who he fights? Eddie Alvarez has said he wants to take the rest of the year off anyways….fights are about timing and money-making potential. This fight works on both levels. And KJ noons is being a baby for not seeing it that way.

  • garth says:

    let’s see what Noons says when it all comes out. the “pressure” right now is all PR from EliteXC. I for one don’t care wether or not he signs the bout agreement when EXC wants him to. If they want to strip him, they can have Nick Diaz, Noons will keep fighting. The Shaw family is about as ridiculous as it gets right now, to be honest, and if I was in Noons’ position they’d have to pay a premium to keep me. $kala is basically running his fool mouth.

    Wait for it to come out. what’s the big rush?

  • Andrew says:

    I’m a huge Eddie Alvarez fan after his exciting wins against Amade, Hellboy and Kawajiri, but wouldn’t the #1 contender for an organization be a fighter that has been fighting within that organization recently?

    IIRC, Eddie hasn’t fought for them since the beginning of the year, while Diaz has fought and won his last two fights in EliteXC. Based off that, I’d say Nick is the #1 contender.

    That’s not to say that I wouldn’t love to see a fight between KJ and Alvarez…..

  • Mike Wolfe says:

    Because Noons isn’t talking, nobody knows what he’s thinking or why. Shaw’s remarks quoted on this site are unprofessional and childish, and certainly wouldn’t motivate me to talk to the guy.

  • j says:

    Regardless of the rhetoric, Noons need to fight, explain why he’s not fightin or be stripped of his title. I was formerly a fan but I now have a lesser opinion of him.

  • OCD says:

    Noons’s dad is probably afraid Nate is going to kick his ass and won’t let his son fight Nick…. j/k

  • 209 says:

    KJ did an interview w/ MMAKO. He said it all there. He completely flopped both ways. He said it’s that Nick is making more and he doesn’t think Nick is #1 so he didn’t want to fight him. Then he said it’s not about how much he’s making because he likes how much he’s making and that he wants to fight whoever EliteXC wants to put in front of him.

  • flyingogoplata says:

    I really disagree with your stance on this. While fighting on the CBS card may give great exposure for Noons, what does it really do to advance his career? If he wins, well big deal he already beat Diaz once. If he loses, then he not only lost his title but the shine is taken off his win.

    EliteXC needs to have Diaz fight Alvarez for the number one contender spot. With a win over Diaz, Alvarez suddenyl becomes a very marketable guy in the U.S.

  • I fully agree with the title: if a champion denies a challenger his right to challenge him for the title he has no moral right to hold the belt and should be relinquished of it.

  • MacBatty says:

    With all the Top notch fighters out there i would hardly put Noons in company with them. Yes he is well on his way but there is no way he has the clout to pull a power play like this. Like Dana White said about Huerta it is the fighters responsibility to market themselves…they are contractors and the more they put themselves out there the more people will pay attention. Look at Brock Lesner….the only reason he is so big is because of the WWE marketing machine.

    I know who Noons is because i follow pretty much most of the MMA out there…..But Joe Blow who watches the CBS show doesn’t know or care about him. If EXC put out a card that didn’t include him i dont think anyone would care. As long as Kimbo and Gina are on that card it will pretty much be a success.

  • ihateemo says:

    “While fighting on the CBS card may give great exposure for Noons, what does it really do to advance his career?”

    I think, quite frankly, that when you are champion those considerations aren’t really your business as a fighter. Isn’t the goal of fighting to take the title? I can understand fighters lower on the ladder arguing for better competition so they can move toward title contention but once you’re there it’s no longer up to you. You are the company’s champion and, as champion, you are obliged to defend your position at the top of the heap against whomever the company deems the top contender.

    Noons is doing himself no favours by either allowing or collaborating with Dion on this media blackout and snubbing EliteXC. As champion, Noons needs to man up, sign the contract, give Diaz another beating and move on. A spectacular win against a legitimate, marketable and game opponent will do more for his career than this “can’t hear you, nyah nyah” nonsense that’s going on.

    Also, can we please ban Mark Dion from managing anyone else in the sport who has talent? Thanks.

  • flyingogoplata says:

    ihateemo,

    I would agree with your position 100% if we were talking about a UFC champion. But we’re not. Elite XC has a limited number of legitimate top level fighters. I happen to think that Noons is one of them. He is already able to promote himself as having beat Diaz. Who really cares if he beat him once or twice? If I’m in Noons’ position I’m saying to myself “if EliteXC folds, it would be nice to have wins over Diaz AND Alvarez”. Imagine being able to go to the UFC looking for a contract and saying “I’ve beat the guy that beat Gomi AND I beat the guy that should have won the DREAM tourney”.

    Noons needs to look out for himself as a fighter and not just do whatever EliteXC wants. Last I checked fighters had to AGREE to their bouts. Now, if EliteXC wants to release Noons because of this I’m sure there would be a number of other suitors.

    I do agree with your comments about Dion though. What he did with Vera was ridiculous.

  • cjfighter says:

    gogo,

    That’s a good point (Noons has already beaten Diaz). The problem is that “Joe Public” has no idea who Noons is, not to mention that he has a previous win over his opponent. It seems to me that he has far more to gain in mainstream noteriety than he may lose in defeat to a formidable opponent. His career can be greatly advanced with a high profile win on network television as opposed to minimal career damage if he loses in exciting fashion.

  • Davey D says:

    Good write up Sam. You’ve taken the time to see all the angles without actually speaking to KJ. This peice is very well written. I would also like to see KJ fighting Nick or Eddie on 10/4/08. Since Eddie is getting married soon, that kind of nixes a bout between them for now. Thus, making Diaz next in line.

    KJ has some really, really good hand speed and power. He won the first fight against Diaz hands down. I wasn’t expecting him to win either but he put on quite a show that night. Come October, it will have been almost a year since they’ve fought. It would be a good time to see them against each other again. Maybe all KJ and his team really want is a bigger “to-show” purse to make it worth their while in case he were to lose? I don’t know? I really hope this matter between Noons, his management and EXC can be resloved swiftly.

  • ihateemo says:

    flyingogoplata,

    Fair point and I can see where you’re coming from and I would agree with everything YOU just said if this wasn’t a title fight we’re talking about. :)

    I think that when you become champion of a particular promotion that your *first* duty is to either a) agree to defend the title against whomever the promotion deems the top contender or b) relinquish the title if you are unable or unwilling to defend.

    The bottom line for me is this: Noons outclassed Diaz the first time, but the fans (well, this fan anyway!) want to see a rematch because nobody likes doctor stoppage TKOs, just like they don’t like fights going to decision. They’re anticlimatic. Noons has every right to decline this fight for whatever reason, legitimate or borne out of his or Dion’s ass. If he does decline the fight, he should not keep the strap. Case closed.

    Also, from EliteXC’s position (devil’s advocate), it’s not in their interests to allow Noons to hand pick his opponents especially if his windbag manager is making noises about Noons attempting to jump ship to another promotion.

  • tallsforeverybody says:

    who cares, in 6 months all this shit with EXC will be moot anyway.

  • dave says:

    The writer of thie article should just kill him self i too watched the 1st fight 20+ times… Noons got lucky and won via a cut and now he is scaried to death to fight nick now since he has surgey so there is no chance of a cut acuring again.

    Noons did not cut Diaz, he reopened prior scar tissue, the doctor at ringside was a idoit as is anyone who thinks Noons was domanting Nick Diaz.

    Simple fact of the matter is Noons is not and will never be in Diaz’s league anyone who believe other wise should have thier eyes checked and possiable mental exam.

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Dave, were you on LSD when you watched the fight?

  • HexRei says:

    ihateemo

    Diaz (both of them actually) have pulled wins out of fights where they appeared to be getting outclassed many times. Gomi beat the hell out of Nick before Nick slapped on that gogo. I think a lot of fans want to see a rematch because we believe Nick could have won a fight that went the distance, and I for one think doctor stoppage is the least decisive way to win a fight. I want to see what would really have happened. And Nick’s plastic surgery is very promising in terms of how he might fare in the rematch.

  • egad81 says:

    NOONS is scared. Maybe he should fight in the womens divisioin.
    I have never liked him and never will.

    He is going into boxing…. didnt he get KOed by CraZyHorSe?

  • Kells says:

    i think if Noons jumps ship with dion people will be wary of working with him because of the type of problems dion creates.

    i wonder if Noons ever thought about that.

    And a champion should take on all comers, thats what a champion does, he proves he is the best time and again, against anyone.

    Anderson Silva is begging dana for fights, he will fight even non – title fights out of his weight class. He is a true champion, noons is merely a talented fighter in a good position wasting his talent, just like so many athletes before him.

  • ihateemo says:

    HexRei,

    “Diaz (both of them actually) have pulled wins out of fights where they appeared to be getting outclassed many times.”

    I agree, though it may not have seemed that way from my comment. Another reason why nobody likes DKOs. :)

  • screwface says:

    Sam im sorry diaz was not dominated, maybe to some1 who isnt familiar with diaz past fights would think so, but any1 who has seen a number of his fights knows that diaz is a bleeder and a slow starter. his style his is to wear his opponent down and pepper him with medium blows b4 he turns it on towards the late rounds. diaz never looks good in the beginning, i think he needs to get pissed off b4 he hulks out , just his style. im not trying to take anything away from noons, hes a decent fighter, but that fight should never have been stopped. i understand why you think the way you do, judged on the stoppage diaz appears to have been outclassed to the avg fan. but any1 whos been paying attention to diaz over the years knows better is all 😉

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