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Elite XC predictions and preview for 'Return of the King' this Saturday June 14

elitexc return of the king

Elite XC: "Return of the King" at the Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu, Hawaii, is less than a week away -- it is set to air LIVE on premium cable network Showtime at 10 p.m. ET.

The promotion recently confirmed the official line up:

Main Event:160 lbs: Elite XC Lightweight Champion KJ Noons (6-2) vs. Yves Edwards (34-13-1)

Main card:

160 lbs: Nick Diaz (16-7) vs. Muhsin Corbbrey (8-2)
185 lbs: Murilo "Ninja" Rua (15-8-1) vs. Tony "The Gun" Bonello (16-0-1)
265 lbs: Dave "Pee Wee" Herman (10-0) vs. Ron "H2O" Waterman (15-5-2)
205 lbs: Rafael Feijao (5-1) vs. Wayne Cole (11-6)

Under card:

140 lbs: Mark Oshiro (10-1) vs. Chris "Red Bull" Willems
160 lbs: Mike Aina (9-6) vs. Kaleo Kwan (8-8)
265 lbs: Chris Bernhard (1-1) vs. Lolohea Mahe (1-0)
135 lbs: Russell Doane (1-1) vs. Dwayne Haney (1-0)
165 lbs.: PJ Dean (1-2) vs. Dean Lista (1-1)
Carl Barton vs. Kepa Madeiros

This card has some very well put together fights and some world class talent. It's an underrated show that several fans, this writer included, have been looking forward to for some time. To get you hyped up and ready for the fights, check out a little preview of the main card action complete with predictions and analysis after the jump.

Feel free to share your predictions in the comments section below.

Elite XC Lightweight champion KJ Noons (6-2) vs. Yves Edwards (34-13-1)

Originally set to be the co-main event of the night, this fight is now the headliner after Drew Fickett had to withdraw from his welterweight title fight against Jake Shields. Losing that fight was a bummer, but the fight we're left with is still capable of living up to the main event prestige.

By looking at the two fighters' records you'd think Yves was the champ and KJ the challenger. Yves has way more experience and a way bigger MMA arsenal. Yves Edwards is the challenger, but he's definitely the favorite to win.

That can be looked at as an advantage for Noons. Being the underdog in your first title defense takes a lot of the pressure off. If a fighter is supposed to lose and he loses, then so what, he was supposed to lose. But if he wins -- if KJ Noons wins this fight -- he'll gain a lot of new respect in the MMA world.

In a lot of eyes, his title will become relevant.

Fighting in front of your friends and family can add pressure to a fighter, but after having talked to KJ, he just seems like too confident a guy to let it get to him. I can't see the pressure of fighting in front of his home crowd affecting him in a negative way. If anything he's going to feed off that energy and use the crowd to his advantage.

This is obviously a very tough fight for the champ. Yves is basically better in all areas except for possibly the stand up, which is very close. If Yves can control where this fight goes, then he's going to win. But if KJ Noons can continue to show solid takedown defense, then this fight is going to turn into a stand up war that could go either way.

This is a much safer fight for Yves if he can get it on the mat. That may be stating the obvious, but if Yves wants to prove he can strike with Noons or if he has trouble taking him down, it's anybody's game.

The two have a history of training together from back in the day. When Yves was a UFC contender, KJ used to come in to spar for some of his fights.

Here's Noons thoughts on fighting his former sparring partner:

"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. I'm just super excited. I get to fight a great guy and a great fighter."

And here's Yves:

"It's never fun to fight a friend, but if you're not in this business to win world titles, you're in the wrong business. I want to get the gold as soon as possible. KJ's got that gold and I've got to go through him. He's a good kid, but he has the gold. If my mom had that belt, I'd fight her. That's just how it works."

KJ should not be underestimated in this fight, but the experience will be a factor. KJ is not well rounded enough to show Yves anything he hasn't seen before. Plus, Yves is on a tear since joining American Top Team, and he's out to prove to the MMA community that he's back.

What better way to do that than to win a championship belt?

Final prediction: Yves Edwards via third round technical knockout

Nick Diaz (16-7) vs. Muhsin Corbbrey (8-2)

We last saw Diaz in Elite XC last November when he lost a lightweight title fight to Noons because of cuts. Since then he's had plastic surgery to repair the scar tissue on his face and shave the bones that were causing all those cuts, and has already tested it out in a fight at DREAM 3 against Katsuya Inoue -- a fight he won via first round technical knockout.

Here's a quote from Diaz about having the surgery:

"Having the surgery has made me more confident. I'm not worried about getting cut, which has plagued me my whole career.''

Diaz is eager to get another crack at that Elite XC lightweight belt. He feels he was robbed out of it the first time because of that scar tissue, and has had some choice words for the champ since that loss.

Here's a snip from Diaz:

""Noons is a little (expletive). Noons won on a cut. He is only a paper champion. His days are numbered.''

Whether or not Noons is successful in his title defense against Edwards, Diaz will more than likely take on the winner if he can get past Corbbrey. And that is a fight Diaz is not -- and should not -- taking lightly.

Muhsin has experience at the professional level in Muay Thai and boxing. He's competed in numerous grappling tournaments and has a strong jiu-jitsu game. He's athletic, quick and dangerous.

This fight is a big test for him, but a huge opportunity at the same time.

Here's a quote from him on the fight:

"I'm looking forward to continue to making a name for myself and fighting the best. Nick is one of the best in the world. I am grateful for the opportunity. This will be a great fight.''

Perhaps a win for him here could place him against the winner of Noons and Edwards. Who knows? There's a big difference between being "the guy who fought Nick Diaz" to being "the guy who beat Nick Diaz." This could be a big step in Corbbrey's career, and for that reason, if nothing else, we know we'll see the best Muhsin Corbbrey Saturday night.

Let's hope we see the same from Nick Diaz.

If we do, then I don't think this fight will make it out of the second round. Diaz will wear him down with punches, eventually get a dominant position on the ground, and work for -- and get -- a submission.

Final prediction: Nick Diaz via second round submission

Murilo "Ninja" Rua (15-8-1) vs. Tony "The Gun" Bonello (16-0-1)

Ninja's coming off a win at Cage Rage 24 against Xavier Poupa Fokam, but nobody remembers that. Most people still have the vision of Robbie Lawler pounding him out at Elite XC: "Uprising" last September for the Elite XC middleweight title.

Bonello is a jiu-jitsu stud with 14 submission wins. He hasn't been on the big stage yet, and this is a big step up for him. There's a lot of eyes watching to see if this guy is the real deal.

Here's Bonello on fighting on the big stage:

"Fighting on this type of show against this class of opponent is what I want. It is exciting. I want to fight many A level fighters. I'll win and lose some but I'll always give 100 percent.''

Something just hasn't seemed right about Ninja in his last couple fights. He had the win in Cage Rage and that was nice, but something has just been off. This fight is just as much, "will the veteran come out like his old self," as it is "is this unknown, undefeated guy for real."

Here's Ninja's thoughts:

""He's a good fighter who's been undefeated a long time. But that will change soon. I've trained hard. I want the chance to win back the EliteXC belt.''

Sounds like a man on a mission. Rua shouldl bounce back and serve this new guy his first loss.

Make no mistake, Bonello is a strong guy with very good submission skills, but Rua is a world class jiu-jitsu player as well, and he's fought on the big stage many times before. Rua will be just a little bit better than the new kid in all areas. He'll either win the decision or he'll tire him out and get a late submission or technical knockout.

Final prediction: Ninja Rua unanimous decision

Rafael Feijao (5-1) vs. Wayne Cole (11-6):

Feijao trains with UFC champions Minotauro Nogueria and Anderson Silva in Brazil. And as far as training partners go, those are right at the top of the list. He no doubt gets world class training daily working with those two.

He knocked out John Doyle with a knee to the body on the under card of Elite XC: "Street Certified." Feijao now moves to the main card, and will look to impress a lof of fans who will be seeing him for the first time.

His opponent, Wayne Cole, shocked a lot of people when he submitted Mike Kyle 42 seconds into their fight in March with an armbar at the Strikeforce: "Shamrock vs. Le" event on Showtime. That impressive win earned him this fight on the main card.

He'll be looking for similar success in this fight.

Feijao's impressive knockout of Doyle is still fresh in the minds of most who witnessed the fight. It was pretty sick and fans have been wanting to see him fight again ever since. His only loss was from a disqualification, so he's yet to be beaten. He should overwhelm Cole early and get another first round knockout.

Final prediction: Feijao via first round knockout

Dave "Pee Wee" Herman (10-0) vs. Ron "H2O" Waterman (15-5-2)

Pee Wee Herman also had an impressive showing on the undercard of the Elite XC: "Street Certified" show against Mario Rinaldi. Herman wore Rinaldi down for the entire fight and eventually put him out in the third round.

He's a big athletic guy with good takedown defense and good power in his hands. He looked great, but this fight will be a very good test to see where his progression is at.

Waterman has fought a lot of the best heavyweights in the world. This is just another day at the office for him and he'll do everything he can to put the first "L" on Herman's record.

In the fight with Rinaldi, Herman stopped a big strong guy from taking him down and he wore him out with punches. If he can execute that same strategy in this fight and stop Waterman from taking him down and wear him out with punches, he'll have a similar result.

That's easier said than done, but I'll go out on a limb here.

Final prediction: Herman via third round technical knockout

That's a wrap.

Remember that the top under card fight -- a non title bout between Icon Sport Middleweight Champion Kala Kolohe Hose (6-1) and Bubba McDaniel (9-4) -- will be streamed for free on after the Showtime telecast.

In addition, Mauro Ranallo will go back to handling the play by play after lending those duties to Gus Johnson for the CBS show on May 31. And alongside him for the Showtime telecast are former wrestling superstar Bill Goldberg and "The Fight Professor" Stephen Quadros as color analysts.

Make sure to check this event out. There are some great fighters on this card and some interesting match ups. I gave my predictions, now let us hear yours. Leave your predictions in the comments sections below.

Remember: Showtime on Saturday, June 14 at 10 p.m. ET.

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