KJ Noons is officially back on the radar screen.
The former EliteXC lightweight champion recently inked a contract with Strikeforce and will return to MMA after nearly a two year absence. He will do battle against Andre Amade on March 22 at the DREAM 13 event in Japan.
Noons is probably best known for his November 2007 championship winning performance over Nick Diaz. He defended his title once against Yves Edwards before his belt was stripped by EliteXC management following a very public feud over a laundry list of issues.
He chose to concentrate on his professional boxing career thereafter and accumulated a 4 - 1 record leading up to his recent signing.
"King Karl" took some time out of his schedule to discuss his bitter fallout with EliteXC, a potential rematch with Nick Diaz, and recommitting to MMA.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Let me start by going back in time a bit. You defeated Nick Diaz to win the EliteXC Lightweight Championship in November 2007. Many were calling for an immediate rematch afterwards. Why did you choose to fight Yves Edwards in June 2008 instead?
KJ Noons: That's who EliteXC offered me. They never offered immediate rematch.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): At this time you had a bit of a falling out with EliteXC management. Now that they are no longer an organization you can clear the air once and for all. What were the differences between you and the EliteXC management team? Please explain.
KJ Noons: It was a contractual issue and money. I beat the guy and for the rematch they wanted to pay me three times less after I beat him AND beat Yves. I wasn't asking for much. I wanted even pay at the least.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): They ultimately stripped you of your belt in September 2008. Were you okay with their decision? Was it justified?
KJ Noons: I told them in an e-mail a couple days before they stripped me that I was going to give back their belt. They stripped me first to make themselves look good. I didn't care.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): I believe you still had two fights left on your EliteXC contract at that point. Was it your intention to still fulfill those remaining fights even though your belt had been stripped?
KJ Noons: No, they broke contract by stripping me. I was free agent.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Do you have any hard feelings towards Gary Shaw or any other member of the former EliteXC management staff or towards your own management at the time?
KJ Noons: No, it's in the past and I moved forward.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Overall, looking at the situation as a whole, do you have any regrets with what took place between you and EliteXC?
KJ Noons: No.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Fast forward to present day. You have had five professional boxing matches under your belt since the Edwards fight, but now you are jumping back into MMA by signing with Strikeforce. How many fights is your deal for and does it allow you to compete in boxing as well?
KJ Noons: I have four fights on my contract with Strikeforce. I can box but I told Strikeforce I wanted to show that I'm committed to MMA. I want to grow with them. We will have to see when the contract is up.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): You recently got to appear on NCIS: Los Angeles with some of your fellow Strikeforce fighters for an episode that will air in April on CBS. What was that experience like for you?
KJ Noons: It was cool. I had never been on a set before. Those were some long days.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Your opponent on March 22 at DREAM 13 is Andre Amade. How would you describe his overall skill set and fighting style?
KJ Noons: I think he is a good fighter and it will be a great fight.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): You're known for your standup skills first and foremost. On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate Amade's overall standup game?
KJ Noons: I think it's good, not great. He has power and you can't get caught with one of his shots or you're done. He's a very dangerous fighter.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Do you have an official prediction for the fight?
KJ Noons: My hand raised as the winner.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Are you open to a rematch with Nick Diaz sometime in the future?
KJ Noons: Yes.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Would you be willing to move to welterweight to fight Diaz or is it your intention to try to capture the Strikeforce lightweight belt?
KJ Noons: I want to get the lightweight belt, but wherever Strikeforce wants me to fight, I'll fight.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Any sponsors you would like to thank at this time?
KJ Noons: Rockstar and Atwater. Also, check out KJNoons.com
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Thank you very much for your time.
KJ Noons: Thanks.
Derek Bolender is a frequent MMAmania.com contributor. He is also a syndicated writer to FoxSports.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/DerekMMAwriter.