Back in 2007, the ELITE XC organization seemed to really have a find in KJ Noons. Noons, a heavy puncher with a boxing background strung together a series of quality wins that included W’s over Nick Diaz, Yves Edwards, James Berto and Jorge Gurghel. Tonite, in his UFC debut, Noons faces veteran star Donald Cerrone in a match that sees Cerrone as a (-280) favorite, with Noons returning at (+220).
At the weigh ins, both men appeared loose and in good shape. Cerrone will enjoy height and reach advantages from the looks of things. The initial WEC/UFC merger saw Cerrone on a winning streak of 6, and his stock rose to near the top. He has gone 2-2 since then, and particularly needs a comeback win after being taken out quick by Anthony Pettis in his last outing.
Noons is 1-4 in his last 5 fights, with losses to Josh Thomson and Jorge Masvidal in Strikeforce. Both of those men made successful UFC debuts. He also dropped a match to Ryan Couture, who lost in his UFC debut, so Noons is almost certainly looking at being cut should he drop this fight.
The thing that could make Noons a live underdog here is that Cerrone is a banger by nature, and the boxing favors Noons. When Noons was at his peak, he outboxed Nick Diaz and banged him up pretty good. He is unorthodox and being short, has learned to MMA box out of a crouch where he can throw big punches and stay safe. He does a lot of good work to the body when he is at the top of his game.
This match will show us if joining the UFC roster is a motivating factor for a fighter’s career. Part of the reason Noons has never totally blossomed is a lack of focus on MMA because of the financial realities of being a fighter on a smaller show. If Noons really wants to make a living fighting he needs to win and look good in this main card fight. Noons is still just 30 years old and he does not have a lot of ring mileage on his body.
With all eyes on this main card bout, Noons is in a great spot to make a tremendos firt impression on the UFC and it’s masses.