On a night when Kimbo Slice made his eagerly awaited professional Mixed Martial Arts debut, KJ Noons stole the show with a shocking first-round TKO over heavily-favored Nick Diaz to capture the EliteXC lightweight world championship Saturday on Showtime
The event, which took place at The American Bank Center Arena, was presented by Gary Shaw Productions, LLC, and aired on Showtime at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).
In other televised bouts, world-ranked Jake Shields, who signed a long term deal with EliteXC late Friday, earned his ninth win a row with a hard-fought first round submission (rear naked choke) over Mike Pyle, come backing super heavyweight sensation Antonio “Big Foot” Silva won his first fight in nine months via an opening-round submission (rear naked choke) over Jonathan Wiezorek and Kyle Noke, the bodyguard of the late “Crocodile Hunter,” Steve Irwin, took his EliteXC debut with a second-round TKO over “Dr.’’ Seth Kleinbeck due to orbital cut.
With the exception of Diaz-Noons, which was scheduled for five, 5-minute rounds, the fights were three, 5-minute rounds.
“This was a terrific show for EliteXC, Showtime, and the fans in attendance,’’ Shaw said. “It is unfortunate that the Noons-Diaz fight had to be stopped, but fans need to understand that doctors stop fights for the health and safety of the fighters.
“KJ was simply outstanding. He is the No. 1 lightweight in the world. He beat the guy who was considered the best lightweight, so he is No. 1. Kimbo showed that he is going to be a superstar. I believe we’ve got the best heavyweight in the world in Silva and the best welterweight in the world in Shields. They are going to be world champions. Noke was impressive against a tough fighter.
“All and all, it was a great night.’’
Noons, a native of Kailua-Kona , Hawaii , is also a professional boxer. He used a combination of strikes to cut Diaz above both eyes and drop him during an action-packed first round. At the conclusion of the session, the bout was stopped by Dr. Rob Williams.
The victory over Diaz in the first-ever EliteXC world lightweight championship fight was the second huge upset in a row for Noons (5-1) on Showtime. On July 27, 2007, he registered an impressive third-round knockout over Edson Berto on ShoXC: The Elite Challenger Series.
“You can’t be happier than I am now,’’ Noons said. “I feel great. I put in a lot of hard work for this and it paid off. No one gave me a chance. I knew I was a big underdog. But I made the best of this chance, and that is what it is all about.
“This is just the first of many belts for me. Winning a world title in boxing is next.’’
Diaz, of Stockton , Calif. , was the aggressor at the outset. Before long, however, his face was a bloody mess.
“He landed some good shots (to cause the cuts),” said Diaz (15-7), who was incensed by the doctor’s decision and stormed out of the ring. “But he was such a small guy. I couldn’t get a grip on him. He doesn’t hit that hard. I knew I should have boxed him more.’’
Kimbo, aka Kevin Ferguson, was clearly the crowd’s favorite. Each time his name was mentioned or a video of him was shown, they cheered.
The legendary street-fighting Internet legend didn’t give them a lot to watch, however, as he dispatched Bo Cantrell in just 19 seconds.
“I wanted the fight to go a little longer so I could maybe show a little more, but it is good to get this one out of the way,’’ Kimbo (1-0), of Miami, said. “There was a little tension but now I can relax and sigh a little bit.
“I was prepared for anything he was going to throw at me. I envisioned it all so what he did at the start was no surprise.
“I am looking forward to fighting again, next week, tomorrow, it doesn’t matter.’’
Said legendary trainer Bas Rutten: “I am happy for Kimbo, but he needs an opponent that is going to push him a little. I think he can handle it, but I want to see how he does when he has to face some adversity and go a full round or two.
“Really, Kimbo got nothing out of this fight tonight except for a nice payday.’’
Cantrell, of Citrus Heights , Calif. , entered the cage with a vast advantage in experience with 20 MMA fights, but he never stood a chance.
“I am not sure what happened but just before the fight I started feeling weird,’’ Cantrell (10-11) said. “I just wasn’t myself in there. I felt a shell of myself.’’
Shields, of San Francisco , Calif. , overcame a fast start by Pyle to triumph at 3:39 of the opening round. Once the Cesar Gracie protégé got Pyle on the ground, he methodically worked to get Pyle’s back and sink the rear naked choke.
“I knew this would be a tough fight and it definitely was for a couple minutes,’’ said Shields (20-4-1), who is unbeaten since 2004. “He came out very strong. Mike is a good fighter. I knew that if I had a chance to put him away I better because I did not want the fight to go any longer than it had to. I am happy with the win, and will be ready for whoever they put in front of me next.’’
Pyle, a Randy Couture disciple, came out cocky and swinging and landed a few while stuffing Shield’s takedown attempts.
“This is not what I wanted,’’ Pyle (14-5-1), of Dresden , Tenn. , said. “I am extremely disappointed.’’
Noke, of Queensland, Australia, by way of Sydney, won a hotly contested fight that was stopped at 4:12 of the second round due to nasty gash above Kleinbeck’s left eye.
“I expected a hard fight, which is exactly what this was,’’ Noke (14-3-1) said. “But I am very happy to win in my first start for EliteXC on SHOWTIME. I have fought in front of crowds of 300. Tonight, I fought in front of millions.’’
Kleinbeck, of Stuttgart , Ark. , clearly won the first round and may have been winning the second before he got cut.
“I felt stronger than him on the ground, but he was a really good fighter,’’ Kleinbeck (8-4) said. “In this sport, you throw elbows and when get caught like I did, this kind of thing happens.
“I should have boxed more instead of just fighting him.’’
In the opening televised bout, trim Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, a Brazilian now living in Miami, had his way against Jonathon Wiezorek (jonathanwiezerek.proelite.com) of Springfield, Ill., winning by submission (rear naked choke) at 3:12 of the first round.
Silva, who entered the cage at a trimmed down 265 pounds, dominated. “Everything went like I expected,’’ said Silva after improving to 9-1. All his victories have come in the first round.
Said Wiezorek (11-2), of Valdosta , Ga. : “Nothing I tried worked. He is a big, strong guy.’’