The following is a profile of Elite XC fighter K.J. Noons:
K.J. NOONS: LIVING HIS DREAM
Karl James Noons is truly living his dream. On February 10, he will be featured on Pro Elite’s premiere of Elite Xtreme Combat, (Elite XC), televised on Showtime at 10 p.m. ET/PT. Noons will face the experienced Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett at the Desoto Center in Mississippi in the first martial arts show on premium cable, and has also signed a promotional contract with Gary Shaw Productions for professional boxing.
Few athletes can boast two contracts in professional sports, but K.J. practically came out of the crib as a fighter and says that he is not an overnight success story.
“My father was a professional kick boxer,” K.J. recalled in our interview. “So I’ve been in martial arts since I was five or six years old and boxing and Muay Thai since I was eight or nine. My dad put me in when I was just a kid and my mom drove me to practices. I’ve been doing this forever and finally it’s my time to shine and I’m ready.”
Competitively, K.J. has already done quite well, thank you, with a pro boxing record of 7-1 , with 6 KO’s, 3-0 with 3 KO’s in MMA, and 13-1 with 10 KO’s in Muay Thai. Obviously the 24 year old Noons has some heavy hands, and is known for his striking game.
“Yeah man, that’s what I want to do!” K.J. explains. “Everyone tries to be an all around fighter but everyone has their strengths. A striker uses his knees, legs, and hands, where someone who has a wrestling background or someone who is a submission expert, someone who is really good at jiu-jitsu, is better on the ground.”
As a boxer, however, Noons considers himself a technician, and is more of a boxer-puncher. He has fought as a 160 pound middleweight since 2004 when he began boxing professionally.
“It’s a different game,” Noons said. “In MMA you can walk right up to each other and throw one punch and either of us could go down. In boxing the gloves are a little thicker and the chances are a lot slimmer. You have to work your jab up and down and work your combinations until you break your opponent down and then go for the kill. Stamina plays a big role too in boxing. You’re going to find fans who like both sports.”
Noons, at just about 5′ 11″ will fight for Elite XC as a 155 pounder, a MMA lightweight. He plans to continue his boxing career as a junior middleweight at 154 pounds to maximize his power in the lower weight class. He’s working hard to manage his weight but concedes that, “It’s hard getting below 160.”
So which sport does he prefer?
“I just love to fight,” Noons replies enthusiastically. “In boxing you have one tool, your hands. In MMA you have all these different tools – knees, hands, elbows, and kicks. I don’t know, they’re both hard, man.”
K.J. is so dangerous as a striker that we wondered how he felt about his ground game and defense.
“I would say it’s good,” he says. ” I get better and I learn more but you never want to get away from what you’re good at. At one point I was training so hard on my ground game that I wasn’t training at what I was really good at. So I focus on what I’m good at and add to my game. I’m not the best, but I’m trying.”
Noons has three MMA trainers, Mike Fowler, Brandon Vera, and Rob Kaiman. Fowler works on his jiu-jitsu and takedowns, and Vera, an MMA contender himself, works on K.J’s standup game. He lives in San Diego and trains there, “camp style,” as he describes it. He is dedicated to his pre-fight work, running three miles a day, conditioning, sparring, bag work, doing plyometrics and speed and agility training, as well as working on his leg kicks, elbows, wrestling, takedown defense and jiu-jitsu.
“After I fight, I take a little time off and switch up to boxing – all hands now,” Noons said with a laugh, adding that many of his training techniques are the same for both sports.
A couple of years ago, there was a Pride competition in Japan and well over a 1000 people flew in from around the world to compete. Noons was selected as best striker out of everyone in all divisions. He was signed to a contract, but was disappointed with the low pay and the requirement that he fight MMA exclusively, so he decided not to re-sign.
“I decided that I was going to take a little break,” he remembered. So the whole year after I didn’t re-sign I stuck with boxing and built my record and stayed away from MMA. My true goal was to re-sign and do both, though I could have signed again with Pride or UFC and just did MMA.”
So needless to say, K.J. was excited when he was signed by Gary Shaw, the President of Live Events for Pro Elite Inc. as well as the CEO of Gary Shaw Productions, to contracts for both MMA and boxing.
“This is what I’ve been working for,” Noons began, obviously thrilled with his opportunity. “I heard some big names were going to get in it [EliteXC] and I’ve actually known fighters that have dealt with Gary and I knew he was a good promoter. He heard of me through some people in MMA and didn’t know I was actually a good boxer. I’m sure word of mouth made it happen.”
Obviously Shaw has big plans for K.J. Noons.
“Yeah, I’m pumped,” Noons said excitedly. “I want to fight February 10th, come out clean with the win, take a day off, go back to camp and box in March. I want to fight non-stop until I get there.”
K.J. was asked what he knew about his opponent, “Krazy Horse?”
“I know he’s a super strong guy,” he replied thoughtfully. “He does a lot of wrestling and he’s unorthodox, almost like a street fighter. Punches come from anywhere and everywhere. When you get in with someone who’s wild you have to watch for that one punch because in boxing you can take a couple of those. In MMA you can’t because of the gloves – there’s just enough padding to go over your knuckles and be able to easily grab somebody.”
Noons was born and raised in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. All three of his MMA fights were held in Hawaii and he has a large fan base there.
“I have a lot of family and friends there, and they’re good supporters,” he says.
K.J. is single, and has a girlfriend. He has two younger sisters, and his mother and father are living in Houston, Texas.
“They’re proud of me to see how I’m going forward and do what I love,” he says of his parents.
When not training or fighting K.J. says, “I’m just a regular guy – cars, girls, going out with the boys, just doing what I’ve been doing for a long time.”
So what should we expect on February 10?
“My game plan will be like someone stalking his prey, and setting up the kill.”