KJ Noons has been talking with his fists, either in a cage or in a ring, for more than a decade. A veteran of kickboxing, boxing and mixed martial arts, his crossover into the UFC is the last of the bigger names to come from the Strikeforce roster. Coming off a ridiculously controversial decision loss to Ryan Couture, Noons relishes the idea of being the underdog, and hopes to find better footing inside the octagon.
He'll not be met with an easy task, though. Donald Cerrone stands ready to try to get his own career back on track, and presents a serious challenge to most anyone in the UFC's lightweight division. I spoke with KJ recently, and got his thoughts on this latest battle he'll be embroiled in at UFC 160. Here's what he had to say:
You know what? It's actually getting easier as I get older. I've changed my diet and eating habits. I'm not eating like a slob like I used to [laughs]. When I was younger, I used to eat like a slob and cut the weight in one day. Now, my whole lifestyle has changed and I'm eating better, so the weight cut is really not that bad at all. It's actually easier. You've just got to stay on top of it.
Moving Past the Controversial Loss to Ryan Couture
Yeah, it was unpleasant. There were a few things - you had to win to get into the UFC, that was number one. Number two, I only get half a paycheck. I couldn't really do anything about it, and they could not overturn it, so I had to dust myself off and get ready for the next fight. The UFC didn't look at it as a loss, so they brought me in and gave me a great first opponent. The fans knew I won, so I wasn't too discouraged by the situation. It's all good.
2.5 to 1 Underdog
I don't really mind. I actually like being the underdog. If those are the odds, then whoever makes the odds, if they're so confident, then they should bet the money on it, and see what happens on fight night.
I think I'll be okay. I've been the main event in MMA a few times and had almost 30 pro fights between boxing and kickboxing. I'm pretty confident that if I am nervous or have butterflies, and I probably will have butterflies, I'll be able to turn that into energy and be able to put it towards the fight.
He's a well rounded fighter. I think he's going to try a little bit of everything, so I trained for everything. There will be stand-up in there for all the fans. It's still an MMA fight, though. We train for the fight to go anywhere, and I'm ready for it to go anywhere.
I don't know exactly where in the Top 10 I would belong, but after I beat him, I definitely think I deserve to be somewhere in that range.
It totally makes you more motivated to be successful. It also makes you a lot more grounded. You're no longer living the single life, going out partying it up or anything like that. You're sitting at home, taking care of the family, chilling, training and getting ready for the fights. It's really relaxing, if anything.
Truthfully, I just think it's something you're born with. Either you've got it or you don't. I train hard - of course I train hard, but you've got a lot of guys that train hard that don't go for the finishes or try to make their fights more exciting, you know what I mean.
You can follow KJ via his Twitter account, @kjnoons
Check out Ariel Helwani's interview with Donald Cerrone here: