EliteXC: Return of the King came to us all live on June 14, 2008 from the Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu, Hawaii. In case you were wondering, who the 'King' was, they were referring to EliteXC Lightweight Champion, K.J. Noons, who stepped up to defend his belt against one-time training partner Yves Edwards.
There was also this pretty tough guy by the name of Nick Diaz on the card, who went to battle with young up and comer Muhsin Corbbrey. Wondering how it all went down?
The night started off with a fight between Wayne Cole and Rafael Feijao. "You can never decide what you're going to do in a fight until the fight happens," said Cole before the bout. "My game plan is to just go in there and fight."
A hard low kick was landed by Feijao to start things off before the two clinched. From there, Feijao tripped his opponent to the canvas. Still, Cole got up soon after. Then came some clinch work from Feijao before he connected with a low blow, giving the two a rest.
When things started up again, Feijao landed a very hard low kick and clinched with Cole again. From there, Cole grabbed a leg, but somehow Feijao managed to connect with a very hard knee to his face anyway. A few knees in the clinch then sent Cole to the canvas. Several punches to his downed opponent later, and the referee had no choice but to step in.
Rafael Feijao wins via TKO at 2:47 of round one.
Next up was a bout between undefeated Dave Herman and the highly experienced Ron Waterman. Early on, the two traded shots with Herman getting the better of things before Waterman went to his bread and butter.
The takedown. From there, he began executing some solid ground and pound along the wall. That said, Herman managed to get up eventually and upon separation, landed a jumping kick to his adversary's face. This led to Waterman dropping a level and going after a leg. Unfortunately for him, Herman didn't go down this time. Rather, he connected with several elbows to the side of Waterman's face.
The elbows sent Waterman to the canvas in the turtle position. Soon after, a very hard knee to the ribs was followed by several devastating Herman punches. That's all, folks.
Dave Herman wins via TKO at 2:19 of round one. Herman, like Feijao, is someone to watch.
Next up was a match between Tony Bonello and former EliteXC Champion, Murilo "Ninja" Rua. "The only way I'm leaving the cage is by being knocked out," said Rua coming in. But that doesn't mean he won't leave that way, now does it?
In case you were wondering, by the way, Bonello and Rua were talking a lot of junk to one another during the staredown in the middle of the cage before the fight. Especially, Bonello, actually.
Bonello came out aggressively, connecting with a couple of grazing shots before Rua went for the takedown and Bonello happily accepted him into his guard. That said, Rua quickly moved to side control, where he landed some elbows. Soon after, Rua took the crucifix positon and began connecting with some serious, I mean serious, elbows.
Then came the mount. To Bonello's credit, he's a tough guy. Along with this, Rua went to side control, then the crucifix, and then came the elbows again. Rua then put a knee on Bonello's ribs, held his neck with his left hand?kind of reminiscent of what former teammate Wanderlei Silva recently did to Keith Jardine?and began raining down rights on his adversary.
In the end, all the referee could do was stop the fight. What a dominant performance!
Murilo Rua takes home victory via TKO at 3:16 of round number one.
"Nick (Diaz) is one of the best in the world," said Muhsin Corbbrey in a teleconference before his bout with Nick Diaz. "I am grateful for the opportunity. This will be a great fight.'' Of course, Diaz didn't make weight. That said, beforehand he indicated the following:
"I'm really looking forward to my upcoming fight and I'm focusing only on it. I won't be looking past this guy. I don't look past any fighter.''
But did his inability to make weight say otherwise?
In a word: No.
Early on Diaz looked for a takedown unsuccessfully. From there, Corbbrey did a good job of landing some nick shots in stick and move fashion. However, the two clinched and Diaz landed a big elbow, which compelled Corbbrey to create some distance.
For the rest of the round the two took turns landing some nice shots. Diaz did his best work in the clinch and from a clear distance, where inbetween those two distances, Corbbrey used his speedy hands to land.
A good and very close round.
Some nice shots by Corbbrey start things off in the second. Then Diaz went for a takedown unsuccessfully. But as always, Diaz kept coming forward. Corbbrey, as aptly pointed out by Bill Goldberg, had stopped with all the head movment he demonstrated in the initlal round, allowing Diaz to land. Though Corbbrey did respond with strikes of his own, sometimes even very solid ones, Diaz seemed to be wearing him down some. Along with this, Diaz connected with several nice punches as the round went on, and did a little taunting, too. Later in the round with only seconds left, Diaz finally did bring the fight to the ground. However, the bell stopped him from doing any damage.
A clear round for the Cesar Gracie product.
The third round started with strikes being landed by Diaz and then a takedown. From there, Corbbrey held him in his half guard for a few moments before Diaz moved to side control. Though an armbar attempt failed, he ended up on top of Corbbrey raining down strikes, including some very tough elbows.
Then Diaz achieved the mount position. Punches upon punches followed, before the referee rightfully stepped in.
Nick Diaz wins via TKO at 3:59 of round three.
"I still got a lot of respect for K.J," said Yves Edwards when offering up his feelings on the upcoming EliteXC Lightweight Championship bout against K.J. Noons, a man he once trained with. "This is the one fight I want him to lose; everything else, I want him to do well. I like the kid a lot."
This was a fast one, folks.
Noons connected with a hard right hand as Edwards came forward aggressively. The punch dropped him. From there, a ground and pound assault ensued, including unanswered elbows, that forced the referee to rightfully end the fight.
K.J. Noons wins by way of TKO after 48 seconds in round one. Afterwards, when Diaz was invited into the ring to promote the likely Noons- Edwards rematch about to happen, a fight almost broke out between Diaz and his camp and Noons and his (including Noons' father).
In the end, EliteXC: Return of the King was an exciting night. K.J. Noons showed that he is in fact, "The King" of EliteXC's lightweight division right now. Rafael Feijao and Dave Herman both demonstrated that they are up and comers with bright futures. Beyond that, Rua looked awesome and Diaz proved he is one of the toughest guys out there once again.