It appears as though KJ Noons is back on the right track as of current, after having his hand raised for the first time in the octagon at UFC 166, in which he used his prominent striking ability to notch a hard-earned unanimous decision against an always game George Sotiropoulos. The San Diego native laments the fact that he could not finish Sotiropoulos, but noted that caution was necessary in order to grasp his first UFC victory and snap his 3-fight skid.
“It feels great. Of course I always go for the knockout, but you know, this fight and a lot of my fights in the past when I smell them getting up after going down, when I rush forward and start swinging for the fences, these guys would get right under me, take me down, and that could change the whole momentum of the fight; especially with a guy like George who is so dangerous on the ground.”
The former EliteXC champ acknowledges that a loss against the Australian could have very well landed him on the UFC’s chopping block; and with the abundance of UFC roster cuts lately, it is unlikely that anyone would debate the sentiment too much. In addition to his conservative approach during the fight, Noons also divided his camp between Mark Munoz’s Reign MMA and the Alliance gym in San Diego. Noons looks back at these decisions with relief, as he admits that receiving his walking papers from the UFC’s brass would have most likely prompted his retirement.
“I’m fighting the top guys in the world. I need to change things up and do something different. If I’m competing with these guys and I can’t figure out the answer, then why keep doing it? Obviously with camp, I changed some stuff up and had some success with this fight, so we’re just going to keep moving forward and keep getting better. I’m excited to still be in the game, and I love this sport. I’m still ready to put on a great fight.”
Noons is adamant to continue his growth as a fighter despite prior setbacks, and use his most recent victory as a means to start a steady climb back to the top-tier of the lightweight division. After a short break for rest and family time, Noons plans to be back in the gym in November, and has set his sights on returning to the octagon in the first quarter of 2014.
Listen to the full interview below: