KJ Noons stripped of EliteXC Lightweight Title

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

KJ Noons (in black hat & shirt) posing with fans. Credit: Charles Criscola

EliteXC Lightweight champion K.J. Noons was stripped of the title on Friday by EliteXC officials for failure to defend the title. Outlined in a press release, EliteXC Head of Fight Operations, Jeremy Lappen stated that Noons turned down two opportunities to defend the title against top contender Nick Diaz. "It's a very unfortunate situation but we cannot have belt-holders who refuse to fight the top contenders," Lappen said in the release. "We want champions who will fight anyone, anytime, anyplace. That's the mentality all champions should have." In June 2008 Noons reportedly turned down an opportunity to defend the title against Diaz in a rematch as the main event on the October 4 EliteXC show on CBS Sports. In August 2008, Noons again turned down an opportunity to fight Diaz for the belt on a future ShoXC card on Showtime Networks. "From my view, it is a fight against a top-named opponent in Diaz," Lappen went on to say, "a fighter KJ has bad blood with and a fight the fans really wanted to see. It seemed like a great opportunity for KJ to me."

K.J. Noons won the EliteXC Lightweight Championship on November 10, 2007 after the fight was stopped in the first round due to a cut over the eye of then-champion Nick Diaz. Noons has since successfully defended the title against veteran fighter Yves Edwards after Edwards was pummeled into a TKO 48 seconds into the first round. In an interview with Sherdog.com on August 29, however, Noons contends that the issue isn't over not wanting the rematch, but compensation by EliteXC.

"I always wanted to fight Nick Diaz," Noons told reporter Loretta Hunt. "It's the most marketable fight for me, the best style fight for me. I think the fans want to see it. But you have to pay for something you want to see." Noons went on to explain that he took exception with the fact while he made $84,000 in the last two years, Diaz was paid $60,000 to take on lower-ranked opponent Thomas Denny on July 26. "It is about the money and how they were paying somebody I already beat three times more."

The future of K.J. Noons in EliteXC is uncertain. "KJ has two more fights remaining on his contract," said Jeremy Lappen, "We are still looking forward to having him fight for us again soon, but not as our world champion." However, recent public finding have revealed that EliteXC is $55 million in debt. Whether or not they can pay out the remainder of Noons' contract remains to be seen. Nonetheless, Noons is determined to continue on. "I can guarantee you that for MMA, I won't be sitting on the sidelines," he said. "I want to continue with my dream of pursuing two sports."

EliteXC is expected to announce a fight for the vacant Lightweight title in the near future.