At the time, Diaz was so angry at the doctor's stoppage that he climbed up the cage's chain links, hopped over the side and escaped back to his dressing room. For a year, it seemed the rematch would happen, only it never did. For a time, Diaz had given up on it, believing he'd never get his chance to right the perceived wrong.
Somehow, Noons became the guy who won by a lucky cut, as if he hadn't roughed up Diaz over the five minutes they fought. Somehow, it had become a fluke. The public came to view Noons as the guy who took his win and ran away, choosing to chase a boxing career instead of granting Diaz a rematch.
In the end, Diaz vs. Noons II offered redemption for both.
For Diaz, it was simple: he got the win. It was no masterpiece, but Diaz swayed the judges with his volume, earning a unanimous decision in the Strikeforce welterweight title fight by 48-47, 49-47, 49-46 scores.
The bout was relatively close. MMA Fighting scored it 48-47 for Diaz. By the end, they were both bleeding from the face, Diaz from a cut on his right brow, Noons from his nose.
Neither man gave quarter. At one point in the first round after an exchange, Diaz (23-7, 1 no contest) could be seen talking to Noons, who responded with a hard left hook that landed. In the second, Noons (9-2) was the one chattering at his opponent. The actual fight was the same as the trash talk, each man taking his turn as the aggressor, each man switching stances for maximum effectiveness.
Four times, Diaz tried to bring the fight to the ground, and once even had Noons on his back, but most of the fight was contested on the feet.
"The thing is, no offense or disrespect, I'll beat this guy on the ground and standing up," Diaz said later.
He did, but not in the dominant way he's beaten his recent opponents since abandoning the lightweight division. Since then, he's TKO'd Frank Shamrock and Marius Zaromskis and submitted Scott Smith and Hayato "Mach" Sakurai.
Against the smaller Noons, who was fighting as a welterweight for the first time, there would be no finish.
Noons had his jaw tested to be sure. Anyone who steps in against Diaz knows they're going to be taking some shots. And Noons held up. He escaped from a bad position on the ground against the jiu-jitsu black belt. He took Diaz's best hits. And he kept coming forward.
The longer the fight went on, the clearer it should have been to those that dismissed the results of the first fight that Noons' win was no fluke. For five rounds, he proved he was more than capable of hanging with the Strikeforce welterweight champ. For five rounds, he shook off the attack that had wilted other, bigger men, and kept advancing. Sometimes he hit Diaz, and sometimes he got hit. But when the final horn sounded, he was still there, still coming forward.
Diaz earned his revenge. Noons' first win will still be in the record book, but now things are all square. He tagged Noons with jabs and leg kicks, landed the occasional bomb, and proved that his boxing is just as capable as that of a pro boxer.
After the final scores were read off, Diaz raised his arms triumphantly in the air. There were no middle fingers raised to his opponent. There was no trash talk from either side. Instead, there was, dare we say it, a touch of class as the two bitter rivals shared an embrace and a few words.
"He beat me fair and square, and he was the better man tonight," Noons said. "Congrats, Nick."
Diaz got his win, and Noons proved his was no fluke.
For both men, point proven.