With a background in professional boxing and kickboxing, K.J. Noons isn't a rookie when it comes to stand-up fighting.
Owner of eight knockout or technical knockout victories in the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA), Noons has imposed his striking dominance over his opponents inside the cage, much like he did during his time spent competing in the "sweet science," where he amassed an impressive 11-2 record as a pugilist.
As he prepares to make his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) debut this weekend (May 25, 2013) at UFC 160 in Las Vegas, Nevada, against fellow stand-up specialist Donald Cerrone, Noons isn't sure "Cowboy" will look to keep the fight on the feet.
Because if history has shown us anything, when "King" is paired up against a striker, it usually doesn't play out as a stand-up war because as Noons explains to Sherdog Beatdown Radio, it isn't the smartest thing to do.
"Every single person that I've been matched up with that looks on paper like it's going to be a stand-up war, there's only been one person that's stood and banged with me, which is Nick Diaz. I don't know if that's the smartest thing, you know? I train for every aspect of the game because it's MMA. It might look like it's going to be a stand-up war, but people want to put it wherever it's going to be the most to their advantage. I feel like the biggest advantage for me is standing. He's probably going to be wanting to take it anywhere, make my hands tired, make legs tired. I'm ready for wherever the fight goes. I think it's going to be exciting anywhere."
Noons and Diaz went toe-to-toe in their initial encounter at Elite XC: "Renegade" back in 2007. Noons opened up Nick's face with his striking, which eventually forced the ringside doctor to put a halt to the fight at the end of round one.
Much to the dismay of Diaz, of course.
And while Nick got his much-desired revenge in their rematch three years later, Noons stayed loyal to his specialty, standing and trading with Diaz for five rounds, coming up short on the judges' scorecards.
A Muay Thai specialist himself, Cerrone isn't a stranger to the striking department. However, "Cowboy" only has two knockout victories to his credit in MMA, flattening Melvin Guillard and Charles Oliveira. While the stats in his win column may suggest otherwise -- winning most of his fights via submission -- "Cerrone" is still a striker at heart.
But, will he play the stand-up game against the former pro boxer? Or would it behoove "Cowboy" to take the fight to the ground if he hopes to avoid his second straight loss?