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SHOWTIME SPORTS MEDIA CONFERENCE
June 9, 2008
EliteXC lightweight champion and former Big Island resident, KJ Noons (6-2) of San Diego, Calif., will defend against rejuvenated Yves Edwards (33-13-1) of Conroe, Tex., in the main event this Saturday on SHOWTIME.
In the co-feature, world-class Cesar Gracie jiu-jitsu black belt Nick Diaz (16-7) of Stockton, Calif., and dangerous, up-and-coming ShoXC: Elite Challenger Series alum Muhsin Corbbrey (7-2) of Hilton Head, S.C., in the co-feature.
The Diaz-Corbbrey winner could be facing the Noons-Edwards survivor in the near future.
Tickets for June 14 start at $25 and are available at all Ticketmaster locations, online at www.ticketmaster.com, at the Blaisdell Arena and at all Times supermarkets. Doors open at 2:30. The first live fight is at 3 p.m. The SHOWTIME portion of the card begins at 4 p.m. Hawaiian time.
Also on the live SHOWTIME telecast, former EliteXC 185-pound champ Murilo "Ninja" Rua (15-8-1) of Brazil will meet Australian Tony Bonello (16-0-1, 1 NC) in a compelling matchup at 185; Brazil's highly regarded Rafael Feijao (5-1) meets Wayne Cole (11-6) of Oklahoma City, Okla., at 205 pounds and heavyweight prospect Dave "Pee Wee" Herman (10-0) of Indiana takes on Ron Waterman (15-5-2) of Greeley, Colo.
JEREMY LAPPIN: Thanks everybody for coming on the call. Just wanted to say we're very excited about this event.
Few things that John didn't touch on as well is following the SHOWTIME event, the undercard will be being streamed live on the internet on Proelite.com. It's a great card with some terrific local fighters on the card. Kaleo Kwan is fighting Mike Aina. Mark Oshiro, the ICON champion at 140 pounds, will be fighting Chris "Red Bull" Willems. So will the ICON champion Kala Kolohe.
So that will be streamed live on Proelite.com, and we're looking forward to the event. It's another great card. John mentioned the matchups. We're very excited about it.
The opening fight of the night is Rafael Feijao, comes out of a great camp. Trains with Nogueira, the heavyweight champion of the UFC, and Anderson Silva against Wayne Cole, who you guys probably saw on the Cung Le and Frank Shamrock card - Dispatched in about 30 seconds by Mike Kyle. That should be a great match-up.
Dave "Pee Wee" Herman, an undefeated heavyweight at 10-0, an up-and-coming guy that we're high on, taking on Ron Waterman, so that will give us a gauge where he's at. "Ninja" Rua, you guys know as our former champion, has taken on an undefeated fighter Tony Bonello. Nick Diaz and Muhsin Corbbrey should be a terrific fight along with K.J. Noons and Edwards.
So we're very excited about the upcoming match. Thanks for being on the call, and I'll hand it back over.
K.J. NOONS: I just want to say thanks for having me on. I want to say thanks for having me on. Thanks to my team, City Boxing, that helped me get prepared for this fight. Thanks to EliteXC and the whole crew over there and SHOWTIME. Also want to thank my opponent, Yves, for coming up and fighting and all the fighters on the card.
It takes a lot, you know, to get in there and actually, you know, fight. A lot of people talk a lot of stuff, but it's a lot harder to actually train and get up there in front of people and fight. On top of that, in front of the TV, so I've got a lot of respect for everybody on the card.
I'm really excited about this card. I'm really excited about the undercard, the whole card in general. This is a dream for me to be fighting the main event. Especially, back in my hometown. This is where I started my MMA career, and now I'm defending my title back there.
I'm really excited to be back home, you know, in front of my family and my friends and to be fighting somebody -- a fighter of such high caliber as Yves Edwards who has so much talent and has been in this game so long.
Me and Yves go back. We used to work out a little bit like nine years ago. This is a guy I used to look up to. It's funny how things work out. I stick to my dream, and now I have the title, now I'm fighting him defending it, you know.
So it says a lot about his character, too. You know, never giving up. Coming back after losses and winning. Now he's in title contention.
I think our styles are going to make for a very exciting fight. I'm glad to have this opportunity with only 5-1, 5 knockouts, 1 loss by knockout. So every single fight I've had is exciting, and don't expect anything different for this fight. I'm super excited, and I think it's going to be a great fight. Thanks.
YVES EDWARDS: I'm really excited about this fight also. I also want my teammates and everybody on American Top Team for helping me get prepared for this and EliteXC for giving me the opportunity to fight for the belt.
But I'm looking at this fight as a really tough one, you know.
I've heard things, and you get on the internet and you hear, Oh, Yves will kill this guy, or K.J. destroyed this guy, you know. K.J. beat up Nick Diaz, man.
So for anybody that doesn't have faith in K.J., you know, that still stands. That still holds true. He beat up Nick Diaz. So that's a guy that I have to fear for.
I think I've been focused a lot on this fight. I think I'm prepared for it. I agree with K.J. that this should be a really good fight, you know.
We did workout back in the day. But I don't think either one of us is going back to that time and thinking, you know, I need to key in on these things from that time. It was too long ago.
But I've still got a lot of respect for K.J. This is the one fight I want him to lose. In everything else, I want him to do well. I like the kid a lot. I'm just really excited about this fight.
I'm glad to be fighting again in Hawaii. I've fought out there twice before. I love the place. It's awesome, you know. I'm an island boy myself being from the Bahamas, you know. Going across the mainland and fighting on the other side, it's a whole lot of fun to be fighting for the islanders.
You guys don't understand, islanders love fights. They're like the best fans to fight in front of. So I'm just looking forward to this. This is an opportunity for me to fight for a world title, a quality world title. And I'm looking for my chance to grab it, man.
I'm just ready. I'm ready to go. I'm kind of Yancy right now. I'm moving around on my feet right now just excited about the fight, you know. I think this is going to be a good one. You guys better not blink, because you've got two explosive guys in there and you just never know what can happen.
Q. Muhsin, can we get your thoughts on fighting Nick Diaz, a fight that conceivably could have the winner of the K.J.-Edwards fight? You've won a few in a row, you've made your mark on EliteXC: Elite Challenger Series, which also airs on SHOWTIME. What are your thoughts considering this is the biggest fight of your career, correct?
MUHSIN CORBBREY: I think, definitely. First of all, I want to say thank you for having me here. Thanks to all the guys that helped me prepare for this fight. Coach John Blanken, Manu Ntoh, and all these guys that helped me with my game plan and what I have to do next Saturday, you know.
It's an honor to be on the call with these guys. All these guys are tough. Yves is somebody I've looked up to, so it's going to be great to be on the card with him. K.J. is tough as nails, and Nick is one of the toughest fighters out there. So it's an honor to be grouped in with these guys and have the chance to show what I can do against these guys.
I have nothing but respect for all of them. I can't wait for Saturday night. Hopefully, we'll all put on a great show for the fans.
Q. My first question is for Muhsin. You had that loss in 2006 to Miller, the submission by Armbar. Since then, you've been on a roll. What did you take from that fight?
MUHSIN CORBBREY: The biggest thing I learned from that fight is never take anything for granted and to train hard for any fight, you know.
I cut down to 145 for that fight, and I shouldn't have. I'm too big for that. On top of that, my son was due that day, the day I fought. So my head wasn't there, and I shouldn't have took the fight.
You know, Jim's a great guy, and, you know, I just learned a lot about training and preparing for fights. Never come into a fight unless I'm at my full potential. It was a great learning experience for me
Q. You were supposed to fight Nick Diaz, I believe, earlier this year; what happened with that fight?
MUHSIN CORBBREY: I think the card just fell through. They ended up cancelling that show, and he was moved up to the Shamrock card. You know, that was a little too early of notice for me to move up and fight on that card. So luckily everything fell back into place, and we're able to do it this weekend.
Q. This is the seven-month layoff for you with this fight, correct?
K.J. NOONS: Yes.
Q. Could you talk about that there was a little shooting around that you were intended for the CBS card that happened and then didn't happen? Can you speak about whatever you can speak about with that and kind of clear the air a bit as to if you were intended for that card and what happened? There seemed to be some rumblings about negotiations and such. If you could just clear why there was a seven-month layoff for you?
K.J. NOONS: I think there was a little bit of contract issues as far as they wanted to extend my contract to be on the card. You know, I didn't want to do that. I just wanted to do what's best in my favor, you know what I mean? I felt that if I held off, you know, I didn't want to sign an extension just yet. So the CBS card happened, and I'm glad. I'm glad I'm fighting on SHOWTIME and defending my title.
So as far as seven months, you know, I think we were scheduled for April 26th, I believe. I think we were supposed to fight. That also got pushed back because of the CBS event and now we're fighting June 14.
So I've been ready for the April 26th fight. This is the longest I've ever trained for a fight. I'm in top shape, and I'm just really ready to get in there and mix it up, you know.
Q. Did the contract issues that you had, have they all been resolved? Did it put a strain between you and the promotion? Is there any lingering problem with that or do you feel everything's been satisfied?
K.J. NOONS: I don't think there's any strain. All it was was they wanted most of the fighters they have they have on a long-term extension. I'm on a three-fight deal. This is my first of my three fights. They wanted me to extend the time with CBS; I declined. They said they had no problem.
It turned out better for me. Now I'm headlining on a SHOWTIME card, you know. So I'm not on the undercard of like a Kimbo Slice or something like that. I'm fighting a very well-versed opponent, Yves Edwards, and I'm very excited for the whole card. There are a lot of great guys on the whole card. I think it's going to be a great card.
Q. You said this is the longest you've trained for a fight. How did you handle that? Did you have to stop or restart your schedule? How did you handle the seven-month layoff in general?
K.J. NOONS: I started, usually I take about eight weeks before a fight. So eight weeks before April 26 I started training. That got pushed back, and I just didn't stop. You know, a lot of people think you can overtrain. You've just got to watch yourself, and I just trained all the way through four months. This is my job, that's what I do. It was fun and I'm glad I'm taking a break finally.
I learned a lot for this fight, too. With only 5-1, only six MMA fights, I'm still learning. I'm still learning a lot, you know. So I'm just getting better, and I just want to be all around good for whenever the fight goes to make it exciting for the fans.
JEREMY LAPPIN: I also can speak to that. The reason why K.J. was not on the CBS card, it wasn't a contractual issue. When we looked at all the different events we had lined up, when we were talking about the CBS card first set we were talking about possibly doing that in Hawaii. And that's when we discussed it with K.J.
When we looked at all things considered as well we needed a headliner with our next SHOWTIME bout. With it being in Hawaii, K.J.-Yves was the perfect battle for that - being from Hawaii and being our lightweight champion. That's actually why he wasn't on the CBS card.
Q. I hate to crowd the call. I'm just confused, so this is not an ICON card. So you're going to have EliteXC and separate ICON cards in Hawaii go back and forth between the two brands?
JEREMY LAPPIN: Exactly. This is an EliteXC card. But ICON will continue to do shows in Hawaii. Their next show will be in August. ICON is fought in the ring; EliteXC is in the cage.
Q. I know that you have a bit of a professional boxing background before you turned full-time to MMA. Could you talk about that? Why you decided to focus on MMA rather than boxing?
MUHSIN CORBBREY: I've been training in martial arts a long time, a little bit of everything. Boxing is great, and I still want to continue to pursue boxing. But at the moment, I have a lot for MMA, so I want to continue in that. I want to accomplish my goals in MMA before I go full tilt to boxing. But I love both sports equally.
Q. Having done some professional boxing, what do you think of the level of striking that goes on, particularly the boxing skills? A lot of people have been critical of it, even though it's a different sport and you can't have the same stance and everything, of the level of boxing in MMA?
MUHSIN CORBBREY: A lot of things work from boxing and a lot of things don't. If you train in MMA, you know what works and what doesn't. I couldn't bob under Silva because I would eat a knee. You can take a lot from every sport, and you just have to make it work for MMA.
Boxing is definitely a huge part of MMA as is wrestling, so, you just have to take what works and leave out what doesn't work.
Q. Have you seen your opponent's most recent fight, because he did win that in a TKO? He was throwing a lot of punches over the three rounds in that fight.
MUHSIN CORBBREY: He looked good in that fight, man. I have nothing but respect for Nick. I think our styles are going to mesh well in the cage and put on a great fight for everyone. It should be a fun fight for the fans.
Q. You think he's going to look more for a submission and go that route against you?
MUHSIN CORBBREY: I mean, it's MMA, and Nick's a fighter. Wherever he's comfortable, he's going to try to make the fight happen. I've prepared myself to be ready anywhere.
But like I said, Nick's a great competitor. He'll throw down with you on the feet or he'll grapple with you. It should be a great fight.
Q. I'm looking at all of the fighters on the call, as the number of mixed martial arts organizations around the world is growing with EliteXC and UFC, Affliction, Dream and so on - is that a good or a bad thing for the sport? Does it cause confusion for the casual fan? Does it dilute the talents of the different organizations and the champions and no one can see who is really the best? Just generally if you could give your thoughts on that, I'd appreciate it.
K.J. NOONS: I think the more exposure of the sports, the more people are going to get to know about it. I think it's just good for the sport as it grows. It just gives more awareness to people and lets people know we know the sport and that we train for this and that it's a great thing to watch.
As far as other organizations and stuff, you know, it's growing. I'm happy where I'm at and I'm planning on staying with EliteXC. I don't know.
YVES EDWARDS: I think the more quality organizations that exist, it's a good thing. There are a lot of fighters out there. I don't think the sport is anything close to what it's going to be in its true adulthood. I think at that point things will happen such as unification bouts and what not. It could be 20, 30 years away, but I do think it will happen at some point.
Having these different organizations, it allows the younger fighters to get that world class experience. Get that experience on a high level of taking on world class guys and going out there and fighting a guy like K.J. or myself or Nick Diaz or D.J. or Rafael Feijao or Anderson Silva. These guys are world class guys.
You know, you're going to need these organizations to do that. You're not going to get high-level guys all fighting out of their own organizations in their home states and hometowns. So that's my opinion.
MUHSIN CORBBREY: I agree with Yves 100%. I think it's great for the sport. I think fighters have options on where they want to go. And getting a chance to see fighters on TV, and, you know, with the competition that's out there, it's a good thing. It can only be good for the sport, and I think that it's going to continue to grow our sport. So I think it's awesome.
Q. I wanted to ask Yves Edwards how concerned are you that you're taking these last few fights on a shorter time period than in the past?
YVES EDWARDS: I'm not concerned about that at all. Actually, I prefer that. I prefer to fight. I don't like sitting on my butt. Right now being with American Top Team, it's great because we've always got four or five guys with fights within the next few weeks. So there's always a lot of training going on. Lot of guys trying to get keyed on and trying to peak.
That always helps having high-level guys always preparing and getting ready for something important to them. That keeps you pushing really hard and even when you're not trying to prepare for something.
But I've been lucky that I've had those guys around. I like fighting often. I don't like taking long layoffs. I'm not that kind of guy. If you look at my record, it would show you that when I do take long layoffs, I seem to have problems.
I don't like long layoffs. I like to be in the ring. I like to be fighting. I love the challenge of fighting. I love the training, and I love to train hard. So I definitely love taking fights quickly.
Q. About American Top Team, you just started training there somewhat recently compared to in the past. What is the biggest change as far as training with ATT instead of when you were out the Third Column Jujitsu and training here in the Gulf Coast area?
YVES EDWARDS: The biggest thing is having world class guys all the time every single day. The thing for me with American Top Team, I don't have to make phone calls and worry about who is going to show up and try to round up a crew to get together for the day.
For a while in Houston, I had that. We had guys go in all the time working out. We had good, high-level guys working out all the time. But guys started moving away. Guys moved back to Brazil and Louisiana. Guys fell off, and I was kind of left alone.
Moving to American Top Team, we've got everybody in the gym every day of the week. That's been the big difference for me, besides the fact that everybody in there brings something to the table. We have a lot of really good coaches in there that have helped sharpen my game up quite a bit. It just exposes you to what you're weak at. Where your game is not strong so that you can work on getting it stronger on that point.
Q. K.J., what are some of the strong points regarding your opponent Yves Edwards and your title defense?
K.J. NOONS: I'm sorry, what are his strong points, you said?
Q. Yeah, or what are some of the things you'll have to be looking out for in particular?
K.J. NOONS: I don't know, everything. You've got to look out for everything with Yves. He's so good all around, you know. A lot of people always ask the first question, how is your ground game, how is your wrestling game? If anything, just because you don't see it, and I don't do that on TV or in my fight, doesn't mean I don't train it.
I'm training that probably three times more than I am my striking, you know. So Yves is an all-around great fighter. He's explosive. At any time something can happen, and you've just got to be ready.
So I just am prepared on every aspect of my game. Just kind of be ready for everything.
Q. Yves, I've heard K.J. talk about he thinks that the extra five pounds fighting at 160 rather than 155 is pretty dramatic thing for him to be able to do what he wants to do in the cage. I haven't heard you talk about it. Is it a dramatic thing for you as well or not a big deal?
YVES EDWARDS: I don't think it's that big of a deal for me. I know I can still make 155 pounds. We're basically fighting at super lightweights, so it's not a big issue. The Pride weight was 161 pounds, so I fought at this weight before. I fought it at EliteXC, and I'm comfortable at the weight.
Of course, it's a little more comfortable just because you don't have to lose that extra five pounds. But I don't think it's a problem. I think it's fine. It's not going to change the outcome of the fight or the strength that either one of us goes into the fight with.
Q. As you know, he made his feelings known about fighting on the CBS card. Is that some kind of sub-context or extra motivation for you? Do you want to fight on the next CBS card? Is that something you come into this fight kind of thinking about in the future?
K.J. NOONS: Like Jeremy said, I'm happy fighting on SHOWTIME in my hometown being the main event, you know. Wherever they want to promote me and wherever they want me to fight, I really don't care, you know. I just want to fight.
About the weight thing, too, I'm really glad it's at 160. It's like a science project for me. Because if I go a couple of days without watching my weight, I might be 180, you know. So don't send a stack of pancakes to my room before weigh-ins because I might not make weight.
But I like the 160 weight, and I'm happy wherever I fight whether it be on CBS or SHOWTIME.
Q. Yves, are you motivated by the potential of fighting on a CBS card or does that matter at all?
YVES EDWARDS: A lot of guys would say yes, some guys may say no. Honestly, I don't really think about it. It's one of those things that if it comes up, it comes up. But when you get out there and the fight is going on and you've got a guy across the cage from you - even if it's somebody that's a friend or somebody you like that is trying to pun punch you in the face - all of that goes out the window.
Would I like to fight on CBS? Yes. That's a lot of exposure, that would be very exciting. But as of right now the only thing I'm focused on is trying to take K.J.'s gold.
Q. Nick has an almost taunting, short-punch boxing style that not a lot of people have been able to figure out, but K.J. was. Do you think that's because of K.J.'s boxing skills and do you think you're going to be able to take a cue from that and use your boxing experience to cut through that?
MUHSIN CORBBREY: I think I'm definitely going to try. I think K.J.'s boxing experience did come in, and it showed a little bit. But I think Nick is a game guy. He's going to come in and use all of his ability. I've got to be prepared for that. He's a tall southpaw.
He's going to come in and use all of his abilities. He's going to throw his fast punches and probably finish with something a little bit harder. So I've got to be prepared for what he brings to the table.
I think my boxing will definitely help me out a lot. We'll see on Saturday night.
Q. Obviously Nick Diaz is a significant step-up in at least name recognition, if not your ability as well, of the previous opponent. What does that opportunity mean for you and what do you think it will take to get a victory on Saturday?
MUHSIN CORBBREY: It means a lot. It's going to come down to who wants it a little bit more. Every fight he goes into he fights tooth and nail to the end. This is going to be a tough, hard fight. I'm going to have to stand in there and get gritty with him.
But it's a huge opportunity. I have a ton of respect for him. He's a tough fighter that's been around forever. So, you know, I really appreciate EliteXC giving me the chance to step up and show what I can do.
Q. Yves, you're a respected veteran with a spot in the biggest organization in the world. Where would a win on Saturday night rank in your career? What are your goals as a fighter at this point in your career?
YVES EDWARDS: This Saturday night is very important. It's the most important fight I've been prepared for. It's a main event on SHOWTIME, one of the biggest networks in the country. So that's definitely a huge, huge thing for me. Definitely this fight's the biggest of my career up to date.
As far as goals for my career, I want to leave this game with a legacy. I want to be talked about when my son is my age. When my son is 25 years old and he's doing whatever it is he's doing, if he decides he wants to fight, I want people to say he's better than his dad. But I want his dad to be great.
I want to be somebody that people remember as a pioneer in this sport 50 years from now, 100 years from now, when MMA becomes whatever it is it is going to be. I want to leave a legacy behind. I want to do that fighting the best guys, you know. Fighting the Nick Diaz's, K.J. Noons, Corbbreys, fighting these guys. These are the fights that I want.
Q. K.J., in your opening statement when you talked about Yves, there was some clear respect and vice versa. With MMA coming to the forefront and the mainstream, how important do you believe it is for new viewers to see the kind of respect that most MMA fighters have for one another?
K.J. NOONS: I think it's very important, you know. I think now that it's becoming mainstream, and it's a professional sport. People are starting to get paid pretty good. So when you show up to the press conference or show up to the fights, I think fighters should have a little class. Dress up a little nice, you know what I mean? Maybe be shaven, and treat it like a professional sport.
Because it's already in the limelight on network TV, and we're already going to be on SHOWTIME this Saturday. So I think it's very important that we show a lot of respect to each other. You know, kind of like a fighter camaraderie. Because when we get in there, it's not so much like that. It's punches thrown, blood flying, teeth flying. But I think it's good that fighters show respect to each other and we show that to people that are new to the sport.
Q. Yves, you're certainly a well-rounded fighter. K.J. has done a good job of defending the takedown recently and staying on his feet. How important is it to get this fight to the ground, do you think?
YVES EDWARDS: It is what it is. K.J.'s defense has been good in the past against Prado and against Nick. And he doesn't have to show what he has on the ground.
How important is it to get the fight on the ground? I honestly don't know yet. My stand-up is good, you know. There may come a time that I decide the stand-up is not where I want to play the game, but that might not happen.
This is an MMA fight. I know what K.J.'s weakness is -- I don't necessarily know what his weakness is, but I think my ground fight is better. But that's not the only place I'm going to fight him.
This is an MMA fight, and I'm going to make this an MMA fight. It's going to be an all-around thing. His defense has looked good in the past. I'm sure it's gotten better. But he's going to have to be prepared for everything, as will I.
You know, the ground game, if that's to my advantage if we get there, that will be really important. If not, it is what it is. It's just a thing. I'm just going out there to fight, and I'm looking forward to a good fight.
If it goes to the ground, it goes to the ground. I feel comfortable there. But I also feel comfortable on my feet punching and kicking. My point is it doesn't have to get to the ground. It just has to get in the cage, and there will be a big smile on my face.
Q. Do you think that your MMA experience advantage will play a role in this fight?
YVES EDWARDS: I think it could, but I don't know that it definitely will. K.J.'s had a lot of fights. He's not only fought in MMA. He only has six MMA fights, but he's fought in Sangei matches. He's fought in some open-hand matches here in Texas -- professional boxing and kickboxing matches. So all of those things come together to form an experience.
You see guys fighting, like my fight with Herman (indiscernible). I had three times as many fights as Herman the first time we fought, but he had so many Jujitsu matches that it kind of evened itself out.
So I don't think the experience is as definitively an edge for me. But it can come into play, and it could be an edge. But I'm not going into the fight hoping for it to be an edge, because if it isn't, then that is a weapon that I planned on using that I lose. So I don't look for that at all.
Q. K.J., nice that they're coming to Hawaii to see you.
K.J. NOONS: Yeah, super nice.
Q. That's got to be a good feeling as opposed to going to Budapest or something. Is it special for you or you've done enough of them there?
K.J. NOONS: No, this is definitely the most special for me. To have -- this is where my father used to fight 20 years ago in like the late '70s. He fought professionally at the Blaisdell Arena, you know. Then I got in MMA. This is where I started my MMA career. I was the first fight on the fight card my first MMA fight at Blaisdell. So soon I'm already returning back as the main event on Showtime, defending my title.
So this is really special. In front of all my friends and family, and all the fans of Hawaii, you know. It's just an awesome experience.
Q. I know you talked about working hard on the ground game. Is it one of those things that do you feel better on the ground game offense or defense? Do you feel you've come a long way on which side of that?
K.J. NOONS: I feel like I've come a super long way on everything. I don't know where Yves is going to take the fight. But I train every fight as if, you know, that's what the guy has to do is take it to the ground. So I prepare physically on the ground so I won't get submitted or that I can submit, or I can ground and pound, or I can defend ground and pound. So I work on it a lot. I'm definitely prepared for it.
Q. You getting to to Hawaii, that's the good news. The catch, you take other K.J. How much have you been able to scout him? Is it just a film thing you look at or video you look at or do you talk to other people?
YVES EDWARDS: You know, I don't like to talk to other people and get information from them, because everybody's different. It's different for different guys.
As far as scouting K.J., fortunately, we both fought the same guy, and that was Umberto, and I've watched that fight tons of times just getting ready to fight Edson. And then turn around and they offer the next fight, they offered me the fight with K.J. So I just turned around and watched the same tape again from the other side. Also got to watch his fights with Nick and a few others.
But I prefer to watch tape to study. I think I have a good idea of what he's really capable of and where I need to take the fight to him to make it easier for me.
Q. If it goes the distance, does it favor you or K.J.?
YVES EDWARDS: He's shown that he has good cardio. And I never had a problem with my cardio either. That's one thing, I think if it goes the distance, it's good for the fans. I don't think the explosiveness goes away in either one of us after the third round. I think it's still going to be the same fight in the third as it was in the first and second. So the fans will definitely be pleased to see that.
In the end, I'm going into this fight trying to win it. So if you put a gun to my head and tell me to give you an answer, if it goes into the later rounds then it favors me.
Q. Yves, you're going to be fighting in the Blaisdell, K.J.'s hometown. Do you think the crowd's going to be a factor? Are you going to be affected by the crowd?
YVES EDWARDS: I don't know. I've gotten some good love from the fans in Hawaii. The thing is I wasn't fighting a local boy when I did. It could be different this time around. But in the end, I've still got to fight K.J. I don't have to fight the fans. So I don't think it's going to affect me too badly whether they support me or not. I do look to not be the favorite going into the fight.
Q. Any desire to compete in Japan now that the door to Japan has opened again with Pro Elite with the Dreams partnership? Any desire to compete there?
YVES EDWARDS: I'll let the champ take that one first.
K.J. NOONS: I'm not looking past Yves this Saturday. I just want to fight the best out there. That's all.
YVES EDWARDS: As far as Japan goes, I fought there before. I love the place. It's a lot of fun. But that is another fight. That's not this one.
Would I like to fight there again? Yeah, for sure. But I'm fighting in Hawaii on Saturday, and that is the one that matters now.
Q. Jeremy, it was mentioned that Feijao's going to be appearing and he had quite a debut in February. Are there any plans to institute a light heavyweight title in the future?
JEREMY LAPPIN: Yeah, there definitely are. Probably sometime before the end of the year or early 2009 we'll have the championship, and Feijao is one of the people that we're very excited about. I think he's got a tough test in Wayne Cole. Wayne's a terrific wrestler. Dropping down to 205 when he's used to fighting at heavyweight just like Feijao.
I think Feijao's got a chance, he's got to get by Wayne Cole, which is tough. But I think he's got a chance to be the best in the world, so we're looking forward to that fight.
Q. I want to ask you about Eddie Alvarez. He is doing good in Japan right now. His wins in the Dream tournament, does that impact his standing in the eyes of EliteXC? Does that move him closer to a title shot after the lightweight title?
JEREMY LAPPIN: We had Eddie before he fought in Dreams. So he was always going to be a contender for a title match. Obviously, winning in Japan helps his cause, and he's one of the top contenders. We're looking forward to having him back.
He's got his finales first to get through in Dreams and then he's going to get married. As soon as he's ready, we're looking forward to having him back in EliteXC. Will it be a title match his first fight back? We're not sure yet. But he's right there in contention.
Q. K.J., you've done both m MMA and boxing, and you haven't boxed in about a year. Is there any reason? Is it too difficult to do both?
K.J. NOONS: No, I think EliteXC and Gary Shaw has been focused on building his promotion and has me fighting on that. I'm concentrating on that right now. As soon as, like I say, I'm not looking past Yves, but as soon as I'm done with this fight, I'd like to pursue my boxing career.
Q. What about the different styles? Do you have to make drastic changes for either style MMA or boxing? Do you have to change your stance or work on certain movements? What is so different between the two sports?
K.J. NOONS: They have their similarities and definitely their differences. I take what I can from the boxing and implement into the MMA. Then, when I train for boxing, you know, it's definitely different. You have four-ounce gloves compared to 10-ounce gloves, so you can take a lot more shots and feel a little more comfortable in the ring when you're boxing. Compared to MMA, the gloves are so small, so you really can't take as much punishment. So there are definitely differences.
Q. K.J., early in the sport in your career you've already been on SHOWTIME a cup times and you have the championship and fought guys like Diaz, now you're going into a fight with Yves Edwards. How do you deal with the mental preparation for a fight as they get bigger and bigger for you?
K.J. NOONS: I just feel a lot more confident whenever I'm the underdog. The only time, 5-1, the only time I lost is when I was supposed to win, and I got knocked out against Crazy Horse.
So I'm the underdog in this one; I was the underdog in the last one. I'm fighting guys with a lot of fights. The last three guys I fought had over 25 or 30 fights.
So I like the challenge. I like high pressure. I like the chance to show up and shine. So just pretty much take it. And, like I said, the last fight before I went into the Nick Diaz fight, before I walked out on stage where millions of people are viewing and thousands are watching me live fighting the best guy in the world at the time. I'm laughing at myself thinking, I'm getting paid for people to see this. This is a dream come true.
I get to fight, and get paid and be on TV and people get to watch it. It's just an awesome experience.
Q. On that Crazy Horse fight, do you still have an interest to go out and fight again in a rematch?
K.J. NOONS: Yeah, as soon as they're ready to give me that, I would like to take that fight next. I would like to definitely show that I can beat that guy. So as soon as the opportunity comes, you know, hopefully, I'll be the underdog and I can go out and claim that win.
Q. Yves, with your career at UFC and amazing performances time and time again. Everyone felt at one point you were the uncrowned lightweight champion in UFC. Now you're fighting for the EliteXC Lightweight title. What's that mean to you?
YVES EDWARDS: It means a lot. EliteXC came to me and offered me a deal. I was excited about it. You know, after two fights in their organization, three fights since the deal happened, they've offered me a title shot. I'm excited about it, man. I appreciate the shot. I'm going to do everything I can to make the most of it.
Q. What kind of pressure do you feel from this opportunity?
YVES EDWARDS: For the first time ever, I don't really feel any pressure at all. I've got the backing of a good team now. I'm not doing this on my own. I'm not trying to make the deals by myself and basically be my own manager.
I've got Mr. Don Lambert taking care of things for me. I've got teammates helping me get prepared and guys that believe in me.
I'm just excited right now. All I have to do is go out there and fight. I don't have to think about anything else but K.J. I'm just excited. I just get to lay back, relax, and do what I love to do more than anything in the world.
Q. Jeremy, can you give us an idea of the light heavyweight picture in the future? Any notable names we should be on the lookout for?
JEREMY LAPPIN: Yeah, we mentioned Rafael Feijao and Wayne Cole as two of our top lightweight heavyweights. We also have Jared Hamman, who was recently undefeated. He lost to Suganuma, who is one of our top heavyweights coming up in sort of a controversial fashion.
He was rocked early, and a lot of people think that fight was stopped too early, so they're going to rematch August 15th, and that will give us one of the top contenders. And we're always actively looking to bring in other top guys.
So the 205 division is the one we're looking to build out now. We've got good young guys and we're looking to bring in established people as well.
Q. Might be remiss that I didn't ask you about the Tito Ortiz situation. Anything going on there?
JEREMY LAPPIN: We're interested. We'd love to have Tito Ortiz as part of our organization. Any organization out there would love to have Tito.
Q. Are you in any talks or anything?
JEREMY LAPPIN: Yeah, we're talking. We'll see what happens. The deal has to be good for both sides. He'd be a great addition to our organization, so we'll talk. But there are a lot of people actively pursuing him.
Q. Nick couldn't be on the call with us today. But his coach Cesar Gracie has just joined. Cesar, thanks for taking time out of your day. Can you make some comments on Nick's behalf on this call on his thoughts on this fight?
CESAR GRACIE: Yeah, he's training really hard. I don't know if you got to see his last fight. Fortunately EliteXC allowed him to do a fight in Japan to make up for the fight that he wasn't able to do with that fiasco that happened in California.
And Nick came out like the Nick Diaz of old that we're accustomed to seeing back in the day, really aggressive. Doing what he does. He looked really good.
His focus is on this fight coming up against Muhsin and everything. But he's not looking past that. He's got to win this fight, and that's what he's focusing on doing right now.
THE MODERATOR: Cesar, what do you think Nick's mindset since he had the surgery, and the fact that he fought? He didn't cut at all?
CESAR GRACIE: No, the cutting situation, his first fight was against Chris Lidle back in the day, he was 18 or 19 years old, something like that. It opened up a big cut. When he did his first pro boxing match, the same cut. It's something that's happening over and over.
We had a plastic surgeon look at it. He said that Nick's ocular bones are extremely sharp, and he's always going to cut and keep building up scar tissue. So, fortunately, the plastic surgeon was able to remedy that by filing it down and making it smooth like someone that doesn't cut. I think that's the difference.
CESAR is a really tough guy and everything. I think, without getting cut up, you're going to see Nick Diaz is really hard to stop.
Q. K.J. and Yves, this involves the calculus between striking and grappling. K.J., your victories have generally been striking. Yves' have been both by striking and grappling and decisions thrown in. How much can we expect for you to be prepared if Yves wants to make this fight more on the ground?
K.J. NOONS: Like I said before, just because I don't show it in a lot of my fights my ground work or maybe my wrestling or submitting somebody, it doesn't mean I don't work on it. I'm consistently in the gym trying to improve and get better on the ground. You know, doing submissions or defending submissions. All I can do is practice every day in the gym and get better.
Q. How do you think it's going to work out in this fight? Do you want to keep this primarily a stand-up fight? How do you see this fight going?
K.J. NOONS: I feel comfortable anywhere. I trained to be on my back. I trained to be on top. I train to be standing, train to even take down to have great takedowns. It's an MMA fight. It's not a boxing fight, so I'm prepared for everything: Knees, elbows, kicks, strikes, submissions, joke chokes. You know, we'll see what happens Saturday.
Q. Yves, can you address that also? You've been professionally fighting in MMA longer and have a much, in terms of your record, a much more varied repertoire. Can you tell us what you expect and if you're going to want to make this more grappling, because you might think it's to your advantage?
YVES EDWARDS: I go into every fight, just looking to have a good time first of all. I'm not uncomfortable anywhere in a fight. Especially not now. I've got so many good guys helping me train. I've got good guys standing in front of me, great strikers. These guys stand in front of me.
I've got good wrestlers working with me. And I've got Mark Genero (sic) and Marcello Garcia to help me on the ground. So I'm really comfortable anywhere.
In this particular fight, I'm just going to take it as it comes. Wherever I feel comfortable, I feel I'm going to be strong where I need to be. That's where I'm going to make the fight happen. I'll just let it play itself out from there.
Q. Do you think that it's a particular weakness of his and while he might be training it, he hasn't had a chance in his professional MMA fights to practice the grappling under real conditions at this point?
K.J. NOONS: I wouldn't say that's a weakness, you know. Take Nick Diaz, for example. Nick Diaz's ground game is legit. He is for real on the ground. Back in the UFC, days we trained in the same training room sometimes. I watched him with his brother, and his brother had nothing but good things to say about him.
His whole ground game didn't even come into play with K.J.
K.J.'s got some strengths that can help keep you away from parts of his game that you think he's weak at. But you really don't know. You don't want to go out there and get surprised. I've been surprised before, and I'm not going to let that happen again. So I'm not looking at him being weak at any particular part of the game. I've trained like he's the best guy in every aspect of the game.
Q. Do either of you want to make a prediction for this fight?
YVES EDWARDS: I'll tell you right now you'll probably get the same prediction from both of us. It's just at the end, my hand's going to be raised and the gold's going to be around my waist. I'm sure he feels the same way.
Q. Yves, you want to say anything?
K.J. NOONS: That was Yves.
Q. Sorry, K.J.?
K.J. NOONS: Same thing, but the cup's going to be around my waist.
Q. May 31st got a lot of media attention -- lot of it negative, some of it positive. In general, what was the talk around the office? What is EliteXC/Pro Elite's reaction to the reaction you guys got for the May 31st show? And I'd like to ask the two main eventers, them being the first main events since the May 31st show, their thoughts on how the general public reacted to the May 31st show?
JEREMY LAPPIN: We were obviously thrilled. We were very, very excited. The news of how it did was terrific. CBS was very excited, which is obviously important. We're scheduling our next event now.
I think there was some negative press from I'd call it more the hard-core community. Honestly, we expected that somewhat. I didn't expect it to be so severe. But the fight card that we put together, we stood behind. We were excited about it. We thought they were going to be terrific, entertaining fights.
It was a fight card aimed to hit more of the mainstream audience. I think he we did that. Everybody I talked to outside of the hard-core world thought the fights were terrific.
There were some controversial things that happened, but those are things we can't control. We put the fights together, and the fighters fight them, and the Athletic Commission and referees make their decisions and the doctors make their decisions.
So with what happened, if we could choose for them to be different, yeah, I think we'd choose for them to be different. But it sets up good things for the future for us. So we were all very, very pleased around the office.
Q. In terms of the hard-core fan base being negative about the show; I feel do you think it was unjustified in terms of the stuff you couldn't control? But the things that were under control - people's comments that the card was not a particularly strong card, especially in the main event - what are your thoughts on that?
JEREMY LAPPIN: I think everybody has different thoughts. But I'd personally disagree. I think that main event fight was a very exciting fight. You know, Kimbo gets a lot of criticism because he's got a lot of exposure. People are just interested in him. People were tuning in to watch him fight. They were buying tickets to watch him fight.
For a guy that's only had three professional fights, I thought he did an amazing job. He fought a very, very tough veteran in James Thompson. A guy that fought all over the world, fought very tough people and has had over 20 fights. For a guy who has only had three fights to come on and won the fight.
I think people were tougher on the card than needed to be. Robbie Waller and Scott Smith put on an amazing fight. That was one of the best fights that I've seen. Unfortunately, it ended the way that it did. But those two will go at it again, which is terrific. From top to bottom, I think the card was really solid.
All of the fight that's we put on are always great. We're always 100% behind the cards that we put on. There is one coming up on June 14, I think it's another terrific card. Our fights are exciting. Our fighters are exciting. I think they're top-level fighters.
Q. Yves and K.J., what are your thoughts after you guys have the first main event coming after this huge May 31st card? What are your thoughts going in and your reaction to how the general public reacted to the May 31st card?
YVES EDWARDS: Well, it's like another fight. I'm excited to be fighting. The May 31st card, them promoting our fight, I think that helped a bit. Some of the fans that enjoyed the fight and probably hadn't watched fights before or knew that we were going to fight on on SHOWTIME, or what not, they're going to check it out. We'll get a few more viewers for it. A few more people will get to see some good fights.
Other than that, it's the next fight. That's what I'm prepared for. As far as the event on CBS, you know, it is great to see fights on regular television. You know, everybody has access to it. I was excited about that.
Just like everybody else, I was disappointed with some of the calls and some of the things that happened, but I also enjoyed the fights. I especially enjoyed the girl fight, and Gina Carano and Kaitlin Young, those girls put on a show.
K.J. NOONS: Yeah, I'd like to say I enjoyed the fights also. I thought it is what it is as far as referee callings. They got their numbers. They hit the numbers, CBS. It got out there to the audience.
I don't know why there is so much negativity. Maybe I'm a hard-core what you want to call underground. If they want to be so negative, why doesn't everybody that has something negative to say go train for eight weeks and you try to get in a cage in front of 10,000, 20,000 people, whatever it is. And then fight in front of 5 or 6 million people. That's not as easy.
I would say give these guys some credit. They all trained really hard. They're all great athletes. I thought it was good. Some of the calls were a little bit, you know, maybe the calls weren't the greatest. But I thought it was good. Give these guys some credit, you know.
I think June 14, I'm super excited for the card. There's a lot of great fighters. I do think EliteXC puts on a lot of great fights. I think there are going to be some really exciting fights June 14th, so I'm super excited.
Q. Go back to the training that you guys did nine years ago. Were you regular training partners? Were you friends to a point where there's a friendship that extends until now? Talk more about that relationship.
K.J. NOONS: Let me start. I don't even remember sparring Yves. It was so long ago. What was it, nine years ago, Yves?
YVES EDWARDS: Yeah, it had to be.
K.J. NOONS: I can't even remember. But I can say we were good friends. We've stayed in contact ever since nine years ago. I've watched his career. He's watched my career. And I think it's a great opportunity for both of us.
YVES EDWARDS: Actually, I'm doing the math in my head. It was a little bit less than nine years ago. Because I remember I was in the UFC. And K.J. had probably just graduated high school. He was coming in to help me get ready. There's not a lot of guys down here in Houston, especially back then.
When the kid graduated from high school he had good stand-up. So he came in, helped me out. He got in a few hours.
But it's kind of hard to go back and think about oh, what did he do here? How did he react to these things? Mostly he was there to just help me out. He hadn't even fought a martial arts fight yet.
But he was there to help me out. And yeah, it extended to a friendship. So much so that I was glad to be there at his first fight. His first open-hand mixed martial arts fight. I was glad to see him in there. He looked really good.
I remember talking to him afterwards. We've seen each other in different places throughout the years. We've kept in touch through My Space and what not.
So, yeah, we're friends, you know. But at the same time we will punch each other in the face come Saturday night.
Q. This card is billed as Return to the King, obviously, in reference to you returning home. Why don't you quickly just give a little background. You were born in Hawaii. How long did you live there? Give us a little background on when you were in Hawaii and lived in Hawaii?
K.J. NOONS: Yeah, my mom, all my family on my mom's side is from there. Born and raised there until I was about 16 years old in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. That's where my father did his professional kickboxing career -- actually, we'll be fighting at Blaisdell Arena -- in the late '70s.
That's where I had my first MMA fight, you know. Now I'm coming back for the title. I'm going to be defending it in front of my family and my friends, and it's going to be a blast.
Q. When your dad fought at Blaisdell Arena, were you there?
K.J. NOONS: No, this was like in the late '70s. I wasn't even thought of yet.
Q. You were negative, huh?
K.J. NOONS: Yeah.
Q. Cesar, I was going to ask if you could give us more detail about the surgery that Nick had. How long did the actual procedure take? Whether it was in-patient or out-patient? How long did Nick have to stay out of the gym and recover and things like that?
CESAR GRACIE: It took a few hours. Over his fight career he's built up a lot of scar tissue, so it keeps cutting over and over on his ocular bone. It was out-patient. He came out of it, and he stayed a couple of days in Las Vegas.
He came back up here, and he was out of the gym a couple weeks. He couldn't do anything. Then he started to roll a little bit. He couldn't box or anything like that. He's now 100% and has been not training with really top-level guys.
His main boxing partner is Andre Ward. For those who aren't familiar with him, he won the Olympics. He's the only American to win the last Olympics, a gold medalist. So he's been boxing with that guy. He looked pretty sharp in his last fight because of it.
So he can get hit there, and even in the gym he's constantly getting cut there. Even rolling, I mean, it was weird. But it's been a complete success, and we're really pleased with it. It's going to really add to the longevity of his career. That's what's going on with him.
Q. Is there anything that you guys avoid in the gym because of that, or is it entirely he goes full-out and gets hit in the face and everything in the gym?
CESAR GRACIE: Sometimes just rolling in Jujitsu you take a knee or something like that, just in the course of it, you get your bumps every once in a while. It's kind of frustrating when someone might get a bump and it's just that. Someone else, you'll get it and get cut like Nick. It's kind of weird.
But he was getting cut off silly stuff. So we're just thrilled that we can put that behind him. Now when he loses, it can be because he got stopped, he got knocked out or something. Look at the Gomey fight, his face was a bloody mess, and he still came back and won because fortunately that doctor didn't stop the fight. He let it go.
But it's always like throwing the dice out there with Nick, you don't know what's going to happen. But we're excited that now he's going to have to be submitted or knocked out to lose the fight?
Q. What is the status of Nick's relationship with the California State Athletic Commission? Is that all behind you as well?
CESAR GRACIE: We're still looking at legal options and everything. It's just we've been so busy with so many fights. Nick fought last month; he's fighting this month. We'll see what happens and how many fights he's going to do in the upcoming months. We're still negotiating with some things.
We're talking to EliteXC about it, obviously. It's kind of been the main thing on the plate as far as nick is concerned.
California State Athletic Commission, I think that there's just a lot of, you know, we'll see what happens. Apparently, what can we do at this point? What is behind us is behind us. We'll keep our eye out to make sure that there's no bias against us, against our fighters or something.
You know, Nick is the kind of guy that he stands up against the powers-to-be-type thing. He doesn't like to be bullied. He doesn't like to be told what to do. So, that's where we're at.
MUHSIN CORBBREY: I want to thank everyone for having me here. I want to thank EliteXC for the opportunity to get out there and show what I can do. I think it's going to be a great fight. Nick Diaz is a great competitor, a hard-nosed guy. It should be a fun fight for the fans. That's what I want to do. I want to give the fans something fun to watch. So tune in on Saturday, and hopefully you'll see something special. Thanks a lot.
YVES EDWARDS: I'm just like the guys. I'm really excited about this weekend. Really looking forward to it. Been preparing for it for a while. I wish all of these guys, everybody on the card, the best of luck - K.J. included. I just want to go out there and put on a show, man.
K.J., just bring it, because we definitely have to put on a show, man. So bring it, and I'll give back as good as I get. So let's go out there and do it.
K.J. NOONS: Just want to say thanks for the opportunity. Saturday it's on. I'm excited. It's going to be fun.
CESAR GRACIE: Just talking to Nick, and he wanted to thank the fans, foremost, because they make it happen. And he wants to thank EliteXC and hopes that everybody is down there in Hawaii to check it out. And those people that can't, tune in for it. It's going to be a great fight. He's happy he's fighting a tough opponent.
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