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Captain underdog: exclusive interview with Elite XC champion KJ Noons

KJ Noons

Elite XC Lightweight Champion KJ Noons (6-2) will headline the promotion's next Showtime event with his first title defense against Yves Edwards (34-13-1) at the Blaisdell Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, on June 14.

Noons became the first-ever Elite XC 160-pound champ last November, defeating Nick Diaz -- the man for whom many believe the division was created -- via technical knockout when a ringside doctor determined Diaz could not continue after round one because of cuts sustained during the fight.

He dominated the entire fight against the more experienced and well-known Diaz, surprising perhaps everyone who was watching except Noons himself. Noons simply executed his gameplan to perfection that night by stuffing any and all takedown attempts from Diaz -- a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt -- and outstriking him from the get-go.

There's been a lot of back and forth talk between Diaz and Noons since that fight, but Elite XC still decided Noons would defend his title against Yves Edwards -- a wily veteran with three straight wins -- instead of setting up an immediate rematch.

That's just fine with KJ -- he fights who Elite XC puts in front of him and doesn't worry about the rest of the drama. He's focused on Edwards.

And to get some of his thoughts on the guy he is actually fighting this weekend, recently caught up with Noons and asked him a few questions about Diaz, Edwards, being a champion and some of the reasons he's not chomping at the bit to be featured on CBS "Saturday Night Fights."

Check it all out and more after the jump.

James Iannotti ( How's it going bro? I guess let's start off by talking a little bit about your opponent and how you're feeling a little less than a week away from you first title defense.

KJ Noons: Yeah, I'm feeling great man. You know, had a great training camp. I'm super excited to be defending my title, and just super excited to be on the card. There's a lot of great fighters on there. I'm fighting Yves -- a friend of mine -- and I got a lot of respect for him. He's got a ton of fights, and I'm just super excited to get in there and mix it up.

James Iannotti ( Yves said something about you guys training together back in the day. Can you elaborate on that a little bit for our readers?

KJ Noons: Yeah, we used to train together, it was a long time ago. I think like nine years ago. He was in the UFC. I came in and sparred a little bit in some of his camps, and he was someone that I looked up to back then and I still look up to today. It's crazy now, I'm in the fight game, and I got the title, he's up and coming, and I'm defending against him.

James Iannotti (
: That is crazy how that works. So did you bring in anybody special for this camp to help mimic Yves and prepare you better?

KJ Noons: I just have my trainers, Baruke, Carlos Ferrera he's my jiu jitsu coach, you know I have my boxing coach and my nutritionist, but pretty much I just stayed with the same sparring partners as last time. I got a lot of guys in house at City Boxing. Dennis Craftcheck is one of my main sparring partners -- he's a great Muay Thai guy and boxing. He's going to be up and coming. You should see him coming up in the future.

James Iannotti ( I'd imagine you work with great boxing and Muay Thai guys, but how's your ground game coming along? Yves has got pretty good jiu jitsu.

KJ Noons: Yeah, Yves has great jiu jitsu. I'm always getting better, trying to get better at jiu jitsu and wrestling. I've never stopped. I've been doing it since I got into MMA. What people tend to see is that I don't do jiu jitsu, but trust me I'm training every aspect. And I know he's just as dangerous standing as he is on the ground.

James Iannotti ( But is it safe to assume you're going to try to keep this fight standing?

KJ Noons: I just want to make it exciting. I think it's going to be an exciting fight with the styles. You know, I'm comfortable wherever it goes. If it's going to go to the ground, if I'm on my back, if I'm on top. I train pretty much everywhere so hopefully, you know, I don't get caught with anything stupid.

James Iannotti ( You mentioned earlier Yves has a ton of fights, and I think this is your sixth professional MMA fight. Do you think that experience is going to play a factor?

KJ Noons: Yeah I'm 5-1 with five (technical) knockouts, and he's got I don't know how many fights.

James Iannotti ( I think he's got at least 48.

KJ Noons: Yeah, it's crazy. If you look at the numbers, he should be someone who just walks right through me. I shouldn't be fighting somebody the caliber like this, you know, somebody like Yves. He's had so many fights, but I feel that he's the one thats supposed to win. I'm the underdog and I like being the under dog. I've had a lot of fights with other styles, and I think it's going to be a great fight.

James Iannotti ( Yeah, that's got to take a lot of pressure off you, as the champ to be coming in as the underdog like that.

KJ Noons: I feel great man. It's my hometown, in front of all my family, all my friends. For only being 5-1, they're just happy to see me where I'm at today, you know. Main event on Showtime, I mean it's crazy and in my hometown.

James Iannotti ( Yeah I can imagine you're life has changed some since becoming the champ.

KJ Noons: It's just crazy man. It's a blessing and hopefully I can, you know, I trained real hard for it, and I just want to hold onto it and have a great fight come June 14. I get to fight a great guy and a great fighter.

James Iannotti ( Okay, well lets say you beat Yves Edwards this Saturday. Is your next title defense after that going to be against Nick Diaz?

KJ Noons: It's really up to Elite XC. When you have the belt, it's really whoever they want to put you up against. So, all on comers, you know, when I win, I have the belt, whoever they want to put me up against, I have no problems defending against anybody who is a top opponent.

James Iannotti ( But a rematch with Nick Diaz is a possibility win or lose this fight, correct?

KJ Noons: It's really up to Elite XC and I really couldn't tell you. And I'm not looking past Yves right now.

James Iannotti (
: Yeah, I hear that. What's your contract status with Elite XC by the way, if you don't mind me asking? And do you plan on staying long-term with them?

KJ Noons: Um, yeah, as long as I'm the champ I got to stay with them. I'm on a three-fight deal. I got to get three fights by November. I've got to defend my title three times by November and this is one of them. Right now I'm fine where I'm at. I'm defending the title. I'm with Elite XC and I'm not going anywhere. I am looking to pursue a boxing career though, after this title fight.

James Iannotti (
: Is that right? So you're not looking too far ahead then in MMA. You're just taking each title defense as they come?

KJ Noons: Yeah, this is, trust me, I'm not looking past Yves Edwards. This is a huge, you know, this is going to be my toughest fight to date. This guy has got 10 times more fights than me. He's been in MMA so long. So I'm just concentrating on this right now for MMA, but for boxing, I'm going to do a little boxing after this title defense. And then I'll be ready for my next title defense when somebody's ready to show me something.

James Iannotti (
: So I take it you've boxed professionally before?

KJ Noons: Yeah 8-1 with 6 knockouts.

James Iannotti ( So when Gary Shaw says you'll be the first guy to have a title in boxing and MMA, he's not just doing his promoter thing?

KJ Noons: Well, we'll see what we can do after this fight.

James Iannotti ( That's interesting. Let's get back to MMA. What are your thoughts on Elite XC's debut on CBS two weeks ago?

KJ Noons: Um, it is what it is, you know. It was the first network show. Elite XC got the ratings that they needed. All those guys, they trained really hard for the fight. They came out and they showed some MMA skills.

James Iannotti ( Is fighting on network television something you want to do? Are we going to see KJ Noons on CBS soon?

KJ Noons: Um, I don't know. What I saw that time, it seems like on a lot of forums and stuff, people were being a little negative maybe because the ref stopped it or people said, it was fixed or this and that. I think some of the bouts were stopped a little bit early, but what do you expect? It's CBS. The first time. There's probably a lot of precautions, you know.

James Iannotti ( So you think some of the fights were stopped early because they were on CBS and they didn't want to push it too far?

KJ Noons: I mean, personally, yes I think so because maybe a little too much blood or, I don't know. It's a new thing for MMA, you know. If I was offered to fight on CBS, I don't know if I'd take it. I think I'd rather fight, you know, I think with the blood and whatever on Showtime. I mean, look at my last fight on Showtime. You get people getting knocked out, you got blood everywhere, people running off screaming, cursing, and I don't know if that would have happened if it were on network TV. I mean, MMA is a pretty brutal sport. I don't know if America, you know, there's so many different organizations that people don't even know about, like these mothers things or whatever that don't want to see MMA on network television. I think it's a real sensitive subject, you know. CBS is not like a Spike or an FSN -- those are cable. So, I don't know, it's growing. It's whatever is good for the sport, you know, more publicity I guess for all promotions in MMA.

James Iannotti ( Wow, alright before you get out of here bro, do you want to make a prediction for the fight?

KJ Noons: My hand will be raised at the end.

James Iannotti ( Nice. Are there any sponsors or anyone you want to thank?

KJ Noons: Yeah, just check us out, you know. June 14, it's going to be a great fight. Check out,, Rockstar. Thanks for hooking it up. Thanks for having me on.

James Iannotti ( Thank bro. Good luck next Saturday.

KJ Noons: Alright brother have a good one.

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