KJ NoonsWhen talking about finding the next contender at lightweight for Gilbert Melendez, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker mentions a few names, but the one that may be at the top of the list is former EliteXC champion K.J. Noons.

The pro boxer and MMA fighter is readying for his return to action this summer, and with a win in his next fight may very well be the person picked to face Melendez in his next title defense.

Noons has been out of action since last October after moving up to welterweight for a fight against current Strikeforce champion Nick Diaz. Noons came up short in the fight, losing a decision to Diaz, but not without getting his fair amount of shots in and being the only fighter in Diaz’s last 10 fights to take the champion to decision.

Now back at his natural 155-pound weight class, Noons is ready to get back on track and earn his way to another title shot.

“K.J. is a guy I think a lot of people underestimate and this kid, especially his stand-up, has a lot of talent. I think you’ll see K.J. in the cage if not June, maybe July,” Coker said about Noons return to action.

The California based fighter has been rumored for a few shows recently, but has yet to make an appearance. After nursing an ailing hand back to health after the Diaz fight, Noons was hopeful to fight in April, but a bout never materialized. He’s been pushed back to a summer date instead.

Likely opponents for Noons could include Jorge Masvidal or possibly Justin Wilcox, although nothing has been offered at this stage of the game.

If Noons is successful in his next fight, he may soon be staring down the barrel of a title fight against Gilbert Melendez before the close of 2011.

“K.J. is probably the best boxer at 155. I think Gilbert’s a better all-around fighter, but K.J. hit Nick Diaz with some shots that stunned Nick, and I know at 155 those shots are really going to hurt,” Coker commented.

Noons is still training with his team in San Diego, waiting for the call from Strikeforce to officially offer him a fight. With a July card being put together that could include Fedor Emelianenko vs. Dan Henderson, as well as Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal vs. Roger Gracie, Noons could make an appearance on the show.


Damon Martin is the lead staff writer and radio host for MMAWeekly.com.
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