Nick Diaz came into tonight’s Strikeforce event in San Jose looking to avenge his only loss in three years and for five rounds he engaged in a stand-up battle with KJ Noons.
Perhaps the most significant moment of the whole fight came in the opening round when Noons closed the distance with a leaping right hook that appeared to momentarily stun Diaz, but he then responded with a chopping right hand of his own that dropped Noons. That allowed Diaz to apply some ground work, though to his credit Noons avoided danger and eventually got back up to his feet.
The second round belonged to Noons though as he began to find his opponent with regularity and opened up a cut which surely must have set Diaz heart racing a little faster given that he lost their last fight due to a cut.
In the later rounds it was harder to split the two however as they continued to trade blows relatively evenly. If Diaz had had his way there might have been some more action on the mat as well, but Noons showed good awareness to keep clear of the champion’s takedown attempts.
For my money Diaz was landing slightly cleaner and more frequent punches in the later rounds, and also some notable knees which were racking up points, while Noons began to reduce his volume and load up on his uppercuts and hooks but failed to connect with that one telling blow that could have swung the fight in his favor.
By the final bell it looked to be a close decision, but I felt Noons had not done enough to take the belt from the champion. In the end the judges saw it the same way with all three awarding Diaz the victory (48-47, 49-47, 49-46).
Despite the bad blood between the two they embraced after the result was announced. Diaz then got on the mike and stated his opinion that he was the better fighter both on the feet and on the mat and he felt he had proved that tonight. Meanwhile Noons was humble in defeat and gave Diaz full credit, stating, “he won fair and square.”
Diaz now improves to 23-7 (1nc) in his MMA career, while Noons picks up his second defeat to go 9-2.
Overall it was an entertaining scrap throughout and I certainly wouldn’t object to a rubber match further down the line given the close nature of this encounter.