“Don’t be scared homie.”
It was one of the first truly memorable soundbites to come flying from the mind and mouth of Nick Diaz, an attempt to goad K.J. Noons into accepting a rematch. There was little reason to believe that Noons was afraid of the man he had once boxed into a bloody mess as they jawed back and forth after winning their separate bouts at EliteXC: Return of the King, but for a variety of reasons, the rematch would not take place for another two years and change. Chief among those reasons were Noons’ oft-injured hands and the fact that EliteXC was teetering on the brink of insolvency.
By the time Diaz and Noons met for the second time, at Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Noons II on Oct. 9, 2010, some things had changed. Where their first fight had been for Noons’ EliteXC 160-pound lightweight title, Strikeforce had absorbed EliteXC and Diaz was now its welterweight champion. His star had continued to outpace that of Noons, thanks to his fight skills, charisma and a busier schedule that saw him go 7-0 between their two fights while Noons went 4-0.
Considering the silliness that had preceded and accompanied it, the fight itself was a very conventional affair. Diaz defeated Noons over five competitive rounds in a clear, uncontroversial decision. By the end, Noons was a mess, sporting a broken jaw as well as a broken hand. The fight was conducted almost entirely on the feet, due in part to Noons’ sturdy takedown defense and probably in part to Diaz bristling at the suggestion that Noons was the better boxer. Diaz was cut early, but fortunately his cutman did an outstanding job and it never seemed to affect the course of the fight.
Though neither man probably knew it at the time, their days as marquee fighters were numbered. Noons went 3-9 for the remainder of his career in Strikeforce and the Ultimate Fighting Championship, while the mercurial Diaz has nearly as many drug test failures (two) as wins (three) and has not fought at all in nearly six years.