The Strikeforce: "Melendez vs. Masvidal" main card taking place tonight (Sat., Jan. 17, 2011) in San Diego, California, kicked off with a lightweight showdown between K.J. Noons and Billy Evangelista.
The fight was a classic match-up between a fighter with a strong boxing background (Noons) and a Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) specialist (Evangelista).
Before the fight, Noons commented that if he could not defeat Evangelista, he may need to consider walking away from the lightweight division.
It was a bridge he didn't end up having to cross, as he was able to win a close unanimous decision in a thrilling stand-up brawl.
Noons was active from the get-go, landing numerous leg kicks and a solid double-leg takedown. For the first minute and a half, it was all K.J.
The tides changed a bit when Evangelista started to impose his will against the cage and make good use of his knees.
With just under two minutes left in the first round, Evangelista started to utilize his muay thai clinch and appeared to be hurting his opponent with well-timed knees and elbows.
The second round saw both fighters come out somewhat cautious, until the four-minute mark when the flurries of punches began to fly.
In an early exchange, Evangelista clipped Noons with a punch to the bridge of his nose that left him bleeding and somewhat staggered.
The second round was very even, seeing both men land their fair share of punches and kicks in what was quickly becoming a stand-up war.
The pace continued to escalate in the third and final round as both fighters' faces showed evidence of the battle that had ensued up to that point.
Noons' boxing began to become a problem for Evangelista, clearly illustrated by the smug smile from rounds one and two leaving his face in a hurry after being tagged a few times.
Late in the round, Noons got stuck in a tight standing guillotine that looked potentially fight-ending, but the combination of fatigue and sweatiness may have saved him, as he was able to escape.
The fight ended with Noons and Evangelista throwing everything they had at each other, much to the delight of the fans in attendance.
The judges all scored the fight in favor of Noons, 29-28.
What a way to kick off the main card!
Remember to check out MMAmania.com's ongoing coverage of the Strikeforce: "Melendez vs. Masvidal" main card by clicking here.