For some MMA fans, UFC 160's lightweight bout between Donald Cerrone and KJ Noons provides plenty of intrigue. First of all, Cerrone comes off of his lone career KO loss against now-featherweight title contender Anthony Pettis, while Noons comes off of a controversial loss to Ryan Couture.
Additionally, Cerrone and Noons both carry aggressive stand-up and typically aim to deliver thrillers while also hunting for finishes. However, the similarities end there. On paper, this fight favors Cerrone because, in addition to his stand-up, he also carries a solid arsenal of submissions.
In contrast, Noons has yet to submit anyone, but one can suggest that Noons will bring in respectable submission defense, seeing as how nobody to date has submitted him. Simply put, Cerrone presents problems for Noons, and vice versa.
Besides a successful UFC debut, though, what exactly would it mean for Noons' career if he did defeat Cerrone? Would he get a step up in competition? Would he stay in the middle of the pack? Does he lobby for the UFC to do a show in his birth state of Hawaii?
He could easily lobby to get the UFC to Hawaii, but we'll tell that story at a later date. Back to the original question, a win over Cerrone definitely opens the door for bigger fights. However, the UFC can sometimes opt to build a fighter up by keeping them in the middle of their division's pack before giving them a step-up in competition.
Noons should expect the same with a win over Cerrone, but remember, the lightweight division still remains the most stacked division in MMA. Nobody in the division lacks the talent or spirited efforts needed to make a statement in the division, but as soon as one contender drops like a fly, a bevy of others arrive to try and fill the void.
After the winners of TJ Grant-Gray Maynard and Jose Aldo-Anthony Pettis get their respective shots at UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson, Noons could conceivably find himself as a part of that bevy of rising stars looking to prove their contender status.
After all, he knows exactly what he must do to get his shot at the belt one day, and he knows Cerrone stands in his way of achieving that goal. Now, he simply needs to do it, starting with Cerrone next weekend.