Strikeforce lightweight K.J. Noons (11-4 MMA, 3-2 SF) is no stranger to a little in-cage conversation, but it's generally laced with a few R-rated phrases and a mother reference or two.
So when Noons and Billy Evangelista started jawing at each other in the third round of their back-and-forth "Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Masvidal" contest, it didn't seem out of the realm of possibility that expletives were coming hard and heavy.
However, Noons said he and Evangelista weren't making threats. They were making a deal.
"It seems like a lot of my fights there's always talking in the ring, but this one wasn't [expletive]-talking," Noons told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) following his unanimous-decision win in San Diego. "I think he felt like it was close. The last 30 seconds, he said, 'Let's just stand and bang and give the fans a fight.' I said, 'Really?' He said, 'Yeah.' He goes, 'No takedowns.' I said, 'You promise? OK.'"
Sure enough, the two slugged it out until the final bell, and while Evangelista had claimed the opening frame on all three judges' cards, Noons battled back to claim the final two, earning the unanimous-decision nod.
Noons, who often relies almost exclusively on his boxing skills, added in a few kicks during the 15-minute contest and before the deal was struck had also worked to take the fight to the floor. It was a complete effort from Noons in the card's unofficial "Fight of the Night," and the former EliteXC champ admitted it was a much-needed result following back-to-back losses to Jorge Masvidal and Nick Diaz.
"I felt like I hurt him a couple of times, but the guy's tough – he kept coming forward," Noons said. "It feels good to win, especially coming off of a couple of losses. I really changed my camp up, and we had a new gameplan this fight because you've got to win. It's about winning.
"I've been going in lately just wanting to put on a good show all the time. I've got to win some, so it felt good to win."
Like just about every fighter on the Strikeforce roster, Noons' next move isn't completely clear. He's capable of competing in two divisions and does have a penchant for exciting fights, but even with a new broadcast deal in place, the Strikeforce promotion still feels as if it's in some sort of odd transition period.
Noons doesn't seem too worried about what comes next. Basking in the glow of a hard-fought win, the 29-year-old said he's up for anything.
"I'll just take whoever Strikeforce throws at me," Noons said. "I put on fights for the fans. Every single time, no matter who I fight, whether they're the best or whatever, 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.
"You're going to get your money's worth when K.J. Noons shows up, no matter what. I'll fight anybody at any weightclass, and I'll put on a good show, but I want to be the best. I'm ready to get back on this winning streak and put on good shows." LINK