Alright, time for the main event, the one for all the welterweight marbles.
For the record, Hawaii usually travels well, but Noons' support is severely outgunned inside the HP Pavilion. Even toss in a few hundred screaming female fans who swoon for his good looks and Diaz is still the prohibitive fan favorite.
The Stockton Bad Boy comes running down the walkway to his usual gaggle of homies including the cageside Melendez. Brother Nate and Jake Shields are there giving encouragement.
The house lights are down and we're an official announcement away from the title bout.
As anticipated, K.J. gets nothing but a lustful round of negativity. Conversely, Diaz gets showered with love—tough to believe my man can stay so angry in the face of such popularity.
Nick looks to be in his usual good shape while Noons looks more than a little soft.
The Stockton Bad Boy wastes no time living up to his name and reputation as he's already talking to his opponent and delivering his strikes with the usual flourish. Leg kicks land followed by a few paws before a wild shot goes wanting from K.J.
The former professional boxer catches Diaz with a stiff left that causes the fan favorite to cover up and hold the cover for a tad too long. Noons comes haphazardly in and gets dropped by a crisp, short right hand and the Gracie black belt follows him to the ground.
A minute or so in the superior position draws no blood and a scramble results in more standing animosity.
The Stockton native is showing his Hawaiian counterpart NO respect with hands alternately handing at by his thighs or making the "let's go/what do you want" gesture.
To his credit, Noons is buying none of the antics and is sticking in the pocket, but he's getting the worst of the trades. He's also having a little issue with his hair as he keeps brushing it out of his eyes.
Diaz. resumes his trash-talking, but K.J. ends the round on a roll. His fast finish notwithstanding, call it 10-9 for Diaz.
The second opens a little more tentatively until Noons lands the first big punch of the round and stuns Diaz a bit. He might've even opened up Nick's face, but it's tough to tell. Regardless, the stand-up isn't going so well in Round 2 for the Stockton Bad Boy and he acknowledges it by shooting for his first takedown of the evening.
It's unsuccessful so we're back on the feet and Diaz has stabilized the exchanges for the moment finding his rang with the jab. Noons answers, however, with a big body blow that continues a pattern that's emerging.
K.J. is beginning to let his hands go and a big part of his comfort zone seems to be winging hooks to Nick's body.
The Stockton Bad Boy seems to be reassessing the game plan as Noons grabs more and more control of the standing back-and-forth. K.J. even mixes in some nice knees and high kicks as the last seconds tick off the clock.
That was definitely a 10-9 for Noons.
No more showboating from Diaz or playing to the crowd, we've got a genuine boxing match on our hands. The Stockton Bad Boy follows Noons' lead and goes to his adversary's body with a couple scores. That loosens up his jaw as the chatter returns.
Noons is back pawing at his bands while Diaz snipes away from outside the shorter fighter's range.
Nick is staving off attack with his quick left jab, but K.J. is picking his moments and leaping right through it to score—variously to the body and head. The crowd's pick answers with a gentle high kick just to keep the Hawaiian honest.
We'll see if there's any truth in advertising and whether K.J.'s comparably cushier physique will play a role as we enter the championship rounds. He certainly looked to lose some steam in an uninspired third round.
Another 10-9 for Diaz.
I get that he can be a jackass, but how do you not enjoy Nick Diaz?
He opens up the fourth rounds with some sort of karate exhibition—a sort of spinning back kick is followed by a hopelessly distant, extravagant front chop kick that draws a chuckle from the media to my right. It's a good thing he gave us that bit of flavor because the rest of the round has been BLAND>
Peppering shots from the Stockton product continue to harass Noons who tries to respond with vicious hooks, but they miss. The crowd is smelling blood as Diaz lands with a left-right combo to the body and shakes things up with a little Muay Thai.
A very little Muay Thais as we're back to boxing.
K.J. tries to steal the round after landing a big bomb on the California, but Diaz finds his composure and recovers with shots of his own. That's an even tougher one to score, but it says here Diaz was on top, 10-9.
If my card is right, Noons is gonna need a stoppage to win or a superlatively dominant round to screw things up and earn a draw.
Perhaps Diaz and his corner think the same thing because the Stockton Bad Boy explores a takedown for only the second time soon after the fifth begins. He narrowly misses it as Noons uses his sweaty-slick legs to move out of trouble.
The Hawaiian's mouth is ajar and he looks like he's lost far more quickness than Nick as the 25-minute limit might be taking its toll. The Californian doesn't look daisy fresh, but he's still moving more or less like he was in the earlier rounds.
Granted, he never moves all that much so...
Either way, this one's going to the scorecards despite the customary furious finish as the final 10 seconds bleed out of the bout. I've got Diaz winning by unanimous decision, but official word is still to come.
Nick Diaz wins by unanimous decision (48-47, 49-47, 49-46).
Holy hyperbole, Mauro Ranallo just called that fight one of the best five-round title fights in the history of the sport.
Bold, very bold.
And blatantly false—it was a good, entertaining contest. But "one of the best?"
Diaz backs of a little of the pre-fight hype while Noons firmly plants both feet on the high ground, saying:
"He beat me fair and square."
Classy and true, which seems like a good note on which to end the evening.
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