Despite the Nick Diaz vs K.J. Noons welterweight title fight featuring one of Strikeforce's most popular fighters facing the only man to beat him since 2006 and the only man to stop him since 2002, I'm not feeling a lot of buzz for this fight. Some of that is because the first Diaz-Noons fight happened three years ago for the now dead EliteXC. Part of it is that fans wanted to see Diaz vs Jason "Mayhem" Miller, the man he got into an extracurricular brawl with on CBS in April. But most of it comes down to Strikeforce and Showtime's inability to hype fights.
Here's Scott Coker trying to get a little something going, per MMA Fighting:
"I'll tell you what - if we leave those two guys in a room alone, I think you know what's going to happen," Coker said. "So it's up to us - we're going to have a wall of security there. We've brought extra police to handle the weigh-ins, the press conference and pretty much a wall of people will be there for the night of the fight. We have to take precautionary measures because these guys have this big feud - and it's not just them, it's their camps. We're going to make sure that we host it properly, and part of that is adding extra security and police officers, and it'll be fine."
Ah the old, "these guys hate each other so much we have to bring in extra police protection" line. This is a solid angle, but you'd think it would have occurred to Coker to push this angle earlier. One would think Showtime would have access to the EliteXC footage of the Diaz Brothers' post-fight brawl with Noons and his dad. Better late than never, I guess. Still I'm struck by how uncomfortable Scott Coker seems when he's trying to shill a fight. The guy is a class act, but the legends of the fight promoting business are skanky old carnies who lie with every breath and exaggerate every fart into a nuclear blast. Step it up Scott!
For his part, K.J. Noons is out there talking some smack, per MMA Weekly:
"There's motivation because no matter how much trash talk, this or that, all the bad (expletive) I can say about Nick, he's still a good fighter," Noons stated. "No matter how you look at it, he's got the title, he's beaten a lot of good guys, and he's the best at 170. You can't ignore that fact."
"Bring my belt, that's all I'm saying," Noons said. "Bring my strap."
For his part Nick Diaz isn't doing much if any promotion for the fight. He couldn't be bothered to show up for last week's conference call and I haven't seen a single interview with him anywhere.
Some could argue that this continues Strikeforce's pattern of pampering their champs. Diaz is used to that treatment. Strikeforce never forced him to face wrestler Jay Heiron despite promising Heiron a quick title shot when they signed him. They're still holding up Heiron from signing with anyone else despite sticking him on undercards and keeping him well out of the title picture.
Combined with Coker's loose handling of his heavyweight division -- where he can't seem to be able to entice any of his top guys to fight each other -- and you've got a picture of a promotion where the fighters are running the show. That's never a good thing.