Strikeforce official Scott Coker on Wednesday stated that the upcoming fight between K.J. Noons and Jorge Masvidal could possibly be disguised as a No. 1 contender’s match with the winner being the next in line to face champion Gilbert Melendez.
As vague as can be, Coker didn’t set anything in stone, while also mentioning the fight between Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante and Justin Wilcox as a potential contender’s bout as well, but most are pointing towards Noons vs. Masvidal for that honor.
With so much discussion about the winner from the fight going on to face the No.1 lightweight in the world, there’s hardly any talk about the actual match-up itself.
Noons, a former pro boxer and kickboxer with 14 knockouts on his record, is getting ready for the challenge ahead, but he is in no way looking past Jorge Masvidal.
“The ultimate goal is to be the best in the world. This is super motivating, I’m not looking anywhere near past Masvidal,” Noons told MMAWeekly Radio. “This is the first hurdle I have to overcome. I’m just so motivated and so pumped to get another title shot. I feel blessed with the opportunities I’ve been in, and just show that hard work and dedication pays off.”
Noons has never been one to back down from a challenge. He went up in weight class for his last fight and ended up going five rounds with former Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz.
While he still believes he won the fight, regardless of the judges’ decision, Noons is the only fighter to take Diaz to a decision during his current nine-fight win streak. Diaz’s win streak started after a TKO loss to Noons in 2007.
But for Noons his goal isn’t to be the toughest guy, or the guy with the best chin, or the guy who almost made it to the top. He wants to be the best fighter in the lightweight division and the next person in his way is Jorge Masvidal.
“He’s a great opponent, great striker, I’ve got nothing bad to say about the guy,” Noons said about Masvidal. “For No. 1 contender (and a shot at the title), I want to have my hand raised at the end of the night.”
While Masvidal himself is a striker as well, winning 10 fights of his own by KO or TKO, the last time he faced a powerful puncher, he approached the match-up with a more strategic game plan.
Much like when Noons went up in weight to challenge himself against Diaz, Masvidal did the same, going up to 170 pounds for a fight against British bad boy Paul Daley in 2010. The fight ended up going to Daley by decision, but Masvidal fought smart, looking for takedowns on the knockout artist instead of standing on the outside and winging punches with him.
So could Masvidal be looking at a similar game plan facing Noons on Saturday night?
Well, Noons isn’t too concerned about it and, as a matter of fact, he thinks Masvidal might want to be the one worrying about takedowns.
“I don’t know, we’re going to have to see when we get in the fight. I like to consider myself a little bit more dynamic or a better strategic fighter than Daley, so maybe I can get better angles or a better game plan than him to get the shot or the punch I need,” Noons explained.
“I’ve got really good takedowns, I just don’t tend to do it. I want to put it where it’s exciting, where I like to fight, and I like to stand up and fight, but if it calls for it I’ll take somebody down, who knows, take a picture, I might even submit somebody.”
It might be a shocker if Noons somehow pulls off a gogoplata, but not nearly as much of a surprise if he’s able to get the job done against Masvidal and earn a shot at Gilbert Melendez later this year.
Noons will look to accomplish that goal on Saturday night.
Damon Martin is the lead staff writer and radio host for MMAWeekly.com.
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