Like most of the fighters on this weekend's Strikeforce card, former EliteXC lightweight champion K.J. Noons (11-5 MMA, 3-3 SF) doesn't know what comes after Saturday night. But he hopes it's an invitation from the UFC and with it a chance to make an honest living.
"I haven't heard anything, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to be over," Noons told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio
). "I would hope so. I would think so.
"I like to put on good fights. I always bring it. If you look at my record or my resume, I don't fight anybody but the best in the world every single time, and I put on a good show. I think people want to see me win, and some people want to see me lose, so that's a draw, and it's always good for exciting fights."
Noons has struggled in recent times, posting a 1-3 mark in his most recent four outings under the Strikeforce banner. But as he's quick to point out, one of those defeats was against former Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz, and the other two losses (Josh Thomson and Jorge Masvidal) were to men who went on to fight for the promotion's lightweight belt.
This Saturday, he faces Ryan Couture (5-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC) on the Showtime Extreme-broadcast preliminary card of "Strikeforce: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine," which takes place at Oklahoma City's Chesapeake Energy Arena. Couture, of course, is still young in his career, and Noons believes he's faced tougher opposition.
"I'm not taking any credit away from Couture, but I've fought better guys than Ryan Couture," Noons said. "He's a solid fighter, for sure. I'm not overlooking him at all. He's beat a couple good guys. He's got an interesting style. I think it's going to be a good matchup and definitely a good fight for both of us."
It could prove a meaningful bout for the 30-year-old Noons, who has openly toyed with the notion of stepping away from the sport. A win would put him at 2-1 in his past three fights and likely earn him at least one shot in the UFC. However, a loss would see him drop to 1-4 in his past five outings, and an octagon debut would seem to be less than a sure thing.
Noons insists he's not letting himself overthink the possibilities, but after fighting just once for Strikeforce in 2012, he's hoping to get a more regular gig.
"I like Strikeforce, but it's kind of bittersweet because it's like I've only fought once in the past year, and this is how I make my living," Noons said. "That's not a living. That's surviving. When your employer can't even really get you a fight, it's real tough. it's kind of bitter, you know?
"If anything, I'm ready to move on and get more fights. If that's not what's next – if the UFC doesn't want me to fight in the UFC – then I need to make the next move for my life. I hate being on hold. That's what really sucks, you know what I mean? If you're going to say, 'three fights a year,' then get me three fights in a year. Don't get me one fight in one year. That's kind of a bummer about Strikeforce. Hopefully in the future, if I get to continue fighting, that the UFC always does give fights. That would be the difference for me, personally."
First, though, he's got to focus on Couture.
"I think I deserve to get in, but if not, it's whatever they want to do," Noons said. "I'll take it one fight at a time. Let's see what happens Saturday, and then we'll go from there."