K.J. Noons (right) vs. Conor Heun: Esther Lin/Strikeforce
K.J. Noons fought for just the second time in two years on Wednesday, but that doesn’t mean the talented striker doesn’t have big plans for his return to mixed martial arts. After a tight decision win over a game Conor Heun at Strikeforce “Live” in Los Angeles, Noons was talking up fights in both the lightweight and welterweight divisions, including a rematch with Strikeforce 170-pound champion Nick Diaz. Noons is the last fighter to defeat the colorful welterweight back in November 2007.
“I think there’s a lot of great fights out there for me,” said Hawaiian-born fighter. “There’s so many great competitors at 155… I do know (Strikeforce is) very interested in the Diaz fight. So, am I. So, I’m willing to fight wherever. I feel like I can contend with anybody.”
Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker wasn’t adverse at all to the idea of Noons competing in two weight classes simultaneously for the promotion.
“I think that we wouldn’t be opposed to it,” said Coker. “I think we will keep him very busy… I think the fights in the 155-pound class that he wants, we’ll be able to deliver and the fight with Nick Diaz (too).”
Coker later stated the either Noons or Jason “Mayhem” Miller -- the catalyst for April 17’s in-cage brawl at Strikeforce “Nashville -- could be next for Diaz once he serves a three-month suspension for his involvement in the incident. (Miller also received a 90-day suspension from the Tennessee Athletic Commission.)
The 27-year-old Noons blamed his inability to finish off Heun on a cracked rib he sustained while trapped in a body-triangle in the first round of their match. The San Diego-based fighter, who sports a 12-2 professional boxing record, certainly looked weary after the ground exchange, which cost him the opening period, but he did just enough to bank the final two frames and notch the victory.
“He got me on the ground, he got me in some pretty tough positions,” said Noons. “I’m glad it went there so people could see I could get out of that. I’ve never had a rib broke, but it’s all the way out right now from the body-triangle.”
Despite the close nature of the bout, Noons was still surprised by the split decision. He echoed a familiar refrain when discussing the outcome after the fight.
“I felt like I won and when the scores were read, I was a bit surprised,” said Noons. “If you leave it in the judges’ hands, you never know what you’re going to get.”