Heading into The Ultimate Fighter Season 11, Australia's Kyle Noke was one of the favorites to make it all the way and win the tournament.
Unfortunately for him, Kris McCray, the eventual runner-up, forced him out of the tournament in the quarterfinals.
So instead of making his UFC debut at the TUF 11 Finale poised to fight Court McGee for the six-figure contract, Noke instead made his debut against Josh Bryant, winning by TKO in the second round.
Next came a fight with Rob Kimmons at UFC 122.
Noke defeated Kimmons by rear-naked choke, and by the time of his main-card debut against Chris Camozzi at UFC 127 last night, the buzz surrounding him was deafening.
After defeating his opponent handily in only 1:35 of the first round, Kyle Noke has elevated his status from journeyman to prospect.
His talent is undeniable, he's in his prime, and he trains out of the best camp in MMA, Greg Jackson's Submission Fighting.
The question we're asking now is, should other UFC middleweights be worried about Kyle Noke?
Within reason, they should.
Obviously, Kyle Noke isn't yet at the level where he would cause problems for the Sonnens and Silvas of the division, but he is good enough that he could challenge the top six to 10 of the division and possibly even beat them.
Alan Belcher would be a good next step for him.
Belcher has the ground game to nullify Noke's, and he has the striking ability to keep Noke at range and prevent him from clinching up and possibly even taking Belcher down. Unfortunately, Alan Belcher is out indefinitely with a serious eye injury.
Jorge Rivera, Michael Bisping's illegal knee victim from last night, would also pose some threats if he were ever to fight Kyle Noke due to his toughness and good boxing.
The downfall to this bit of speculation is the glaring hole in Rivera's fight game, that being takedown defense and a lack of any ground game whatsoever.
A fight that I would very much enjoy seeing, but isn't likely, is Chris Leben vs. Kyle Noke. Chris Leben is coming off of a first round KO loss to Brian Stann, who coincidentally trains out of Albuquerque with Kyle Noke.
This fight would be a great headliner for the unannounced UFC on Versus 5, and after Leben's loss, these two fighters would even be ranked within five or six spots of each other.
The fight that seems most likely to happen, though, is Court McGee fighting Kyle Noke.
Both are probably ranked around the same place, both have good standup and a good ground game, and both are coming off of impressive wins over a low ranked fighter.
In conclusion, even speculating the above matchups answers my question. For now, the UFC MW division shouldn't be too worried about Kyle Noke.
However, they should keep him within sight at all times, because with a few more victories, he will propel himself into the upper echelon of the division.
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