Former Elite XC lightweight champion KJ Noons (7-2) is set to make his return to Strikeforce against Billy Evangelista (10-0) on the main card of the upcoming Strikeforce: "Miami" event slated for the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida, on Jan. 30.
Noons has been out of mixed martial arts for more than a year following his retirement from the sport in late 2008 after he was stripped of his 155-pound title for refusing to accept a rematch with Nick Diaz under the terms Elite XC was offering.
"King Karl" felt that his previous performance against Diaz (a first round technical knockout) and his lone title defense -- a first round technical knockout victory over Yves Edwards in June of 2008 -- was enough to at least earn himself a bigger paycheck than Diaz in the rematch.
The promotion, however, apparently disagreed, causing a big mess and ultimately leading to Noons being forced to relinquish his title.
The ex-boxer then decided to make an attempt to return to his roots inside the ring, but a disappointing decision loss to James Countryman earlier this year threw a wrench into those plans. The City Boxing product did manage to put together a solid record of 4-1 as a pugilist, but he likely wasn't going to be winning a world title anytime soon.
That may not be the case in Strikeforce -- unless of course Evangelista has anything to say about it.
Evangelista lost for the first time in his career to Mike Aina in May of 2009. He was accused of "intentionally" (and illegally) kneeing the Hawaiian fighter in the head while he was down in the second round. "Iron" was said he was hurt and unable to continue, which forced referee to call a stop to the action on the recommendation of the cageside doctor.
Evangelista appealed the loss after video footage appeared to indicate that his errant blows landed on Aina's shoulder area and the California State Athletic Commission agreed, changing the result to a "No Contest."
With his undefeated streak intact, the Team Buhawe product remained perfect after a three round war with Jorge Gurgel in the main event of Strikeforce Challengers: 'Evangelista vs Gurgel' on November 6.
A win over a high profile lightweight like Noons could immediately vault Evangelista into a short list of 155-pound title contenders. There is a lot on the line for both fighters and it's unlikely this one will see the judges cards.
The Jan. 30 event is set to air at 8 p.m. ET live on Showtime and will mark the promotion’s debut in the "Sunshine State" and will also feature the much-anticipated debut of former NFL great Herschel Walker. Current Strikeforce Women's Champion Cristian 'Cyborg' Santos will also be in action.
For more on Strikeforce: "Miami" click here.