LAS VEGAS – The world of social media did a good job of picking up KJ Noons when he was feeling a little down.
Without them? Well, who knows what he’d have done after his controversial split-decision loss to Ryan Couture in January.
But the Twitters and the Facebooks all blew up saying Noons won the fight and was robbed at the Strikeforce finale. Even UFC President Dana White chimed in on it, believing the judges got it wrong.
All that support – and the support of White and the UFC – bolstered Noons.
“At this age, if I can’t be on the biggest show, fighting the best guys in the world, if (the UFC) wouldn’t have taken me, it would’ve been over,” Noons on Thursday told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “But the support and people saying, ‘You got robbed,’ that really rejuvenated me. And the UFC saying, ‘We’ll stand behind you and bring you over,’ that was a new beginning. A second run at it.”
Noons thought he was in a win-and-you’re-in, lose-and-go-home situation when he fought Couture. The loss should’ve meant he didn’t move into the UFC – but White stood behind him.
Noons (11-6 MMA, 0-0 UFC) on Saturday makes his UFC debut when he meets Donald Cerrone (19-5 MMA, 6-2 UFC) to open the main card of UFC 160 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The main card airs on pay-per-view after prelims on FX and Facebook.
The disappointment of the Couture loss was short-lived. But in his UFC debut, he brings in four losses in his past five fights – and gets one of the lightweight division’s toughest draws in Cerrone, a man who like Noons is known for exciting fights.
It’s the classic “This has ‘Fight of the Night’ written all over it” scenario with Noons-Cerrone, and Noons hopes Cerrone is coming to play.
“I’ve always been put up stylistically against somebody that’s excited for a good fight,” Noons said. “But I don’t think people realize how hard these fighters try to take me to the ground, and how hard I train not to. So really, I’m the one making it exciting. I train so hard to keep it on the top where I feel the advantage is, and they want to bring it to where their advantage is. Most guys are little more well-rounded on the ground and can take me – they think. But this is MMA, and it can go anywhere.”
Despite the rough patch Noons has had starting with his Strikeforce welterweight title shot against Nick Diaz, he believes the loss to Couture has helped put him back a new path.
“If I lost, you don’t get into the UFC,” Noons said. “That’s how I was looking at it. But them saying they’ll take me, that got me back on track. Everybody knew what really happened. That lifted my spirits.
“I’m super excited. It’s a great opportunity for me. I’ve been in the fight game for a long time, and it feels like a rebirth. I’m motivated.”
For the latest on UFC 160, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.