Let me start off this mid-week Reverie by stating that in my opinion, I firmly believe Karl James Noons (Pictures) will succeed in the sport of mixed martial arts.
Now, before you fill my inbox with flame e-mails that directly and blatantly misquote me, read closely: I'm not saying he'll be a world champion (though he might be one day). I'm not saying he'll be an all-time great. And I'm not saying that he'll end his career as a billionaire.
All I'm declaring is that Noons has the fighting style and charisma that will bring him more monetary success than most of his peers. As anybody with even half a brain knows by now, most of the time the fighters who are paid more handsomely than other great fighters are the ones people want to see. Just because someone is great doesn't always translate into fistic riches, and that's where the 24-year-old from San Diego fits the bill.
Noons is a talented fighter who is fresh off an explosive knockout of the solid James Edson Berto (Pictures) in the main event of ShoXC's debut. Noons kept Berto guessing the entire time and in the end, a final sloppy takedown attempt from the Haitian-American cost him as a sinister knee was planted onto his grill, ultimately ending the contest in brutal fashion.
While the victory wasn't against a fighter the caliber of, say, Takanori Gomi (Pictures), it was against a solid competitor who some were picking to triumph.
Obviously it's far too early to gauge just how far Noons will go in his professional fighting career, but I think it's safe to say that EliteXC had better keep him under contract for as long as they can. He's not as talented as such fighters as B.J. Penn (Pictures), Gomi or Hayato Sakurai (Pictures) but he possesses a characteristic that one day could possibly trump them all -- marketability.
Noons is entertaining and comes to fight every time out. Of course he was laid flat on his back courtesy of an evil counter punch from Charles Bennett (Pictures) a few months ago, but he bounced back with style.
Fans, especially those here in North America, salivate for knockout artists and have an insatiable appetite for explosive finishes. KJ hones both of those traits perfectly and while he most definitely will never garner the same sort of popularity as a Lebron James or Derek Jeter, he has what it takes to stand shoulder to shoulder with someone like Matt Hughes (Pictures).
When it comes to boxing, HBO is still the alpha male of television in the eyes of casual observers. Come on, how can you not be the best network when you have guys like Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Bernard Hopkins and Manny Pacquiao signed exclusively?
However, pretty much anybody who closely follows boxing -- or is a member of the boxing media like me -- will tell you that it is Showtime, not HBO, that holds the crown for the sweet science.
Showtime has pillaged HBO's stash in recent years and when it comes to delivering the best fights (see: best fights, not bouts pitting the most popular fighters) Showtime rules the roost.
And Showtime's cards are never televised on pay-per-view anymore. That coupled with their awesome ShoBox series -- a show designed to showcase young, unknown talent -- blows every other boxing network out of the water, including HBO, ESPN and TeleFutura.
Oh, I can't forget to mention those slimy, snake-driven lousy PPV networks that try to squeeze every penny out of fight fans by "offering" events featuring the elderly Evander Holyfield squaring off against -- insert the sound of a slap to the forehead -- Lou Savarese.
To make matters even better for Showtime, they chose to evolve their programming by airing mixed martial arts, including the initial ShoXC card, an MMA show modeled after the successful and important ShoBox.
It's only a matter of time before EliteXC actually becomes a viable alternative to whatever Zuffa brings to the table, as long as they steer clear from the mistakes of other disastrous organizations that have come before them.
The Sloandog Prophecy
In Anaheim, Calif. on Sept. 22, former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell (Pictures) will return to the octagon and face 205-pounder Keith Jardine (Pictures).
Will Liddell bounce back with a win and kick off his quest to regain the title that, if he happens to land another title shot, should be comfortably wrapped around Dan Henderson (Pictures)'s waist? Or will "The Dean of Mean" capitalize on an aging Liddell and score the biggest win of his career?
On the undercard, Mauricio Rua (Pictures) will lock horns with fan-favorite Forrest Griffin (Pictures). The 2005 PRIDE Grand Prix champion will finally make his UFC debut, and those proud members of Generation TUF will get to see just what this guy is made of.
Rua is one of the best fighters on the planet and he's looking to wow novice fans by dispatching one of the sport's most beloved figures in the States. For Griffin, he'll try to avenge the sour taste of a lousy points win in Ireland.
In the Liddell-Jardine fight, I see Jardine shocking the world. Yes, that's right: I am picking Jardine, who will assuredly be an enormous underdog, to capitalize on a comebacking Liddell.
Liddell is seasoned. Age assassinates fighters who rely on quick reflexes and counter-punching much sooner than fighters who rely on pressure, strength and endurance.
Liddell is not shot, but he looked offbeat against Rampage in their rematch, and that was after "The Iceman" had the greatest training camp in the history of Chuck Liddell (Pictures).
Another reason why I'm picking Jardine is because Team Jackson is in a pitiful slump. Virtually all of trainer Greg Jackson's men have been beaten lately: Jardine, Diego Sanchez (Pictures), Joey Villasenor (Pictures), and Nathan Marquardt (Pictures) -- not to mention Tito taking it to Rashad Evans (Pictures). The Albuquerque crew is due for a turnaround and it'll start against Liddell.
As for Rua and Griffin, expect this to be the coming out party for "Shogun" in the U.S. He's going to steamroll Griffin and he'll quickly be Generation TUF's favorite fighter of all-time. I'm picking him to do to Griffin what Gomi did to Mitushiro Ishida. I expect an emphatic first round blast out in favor of the Brazilian.
Now if those predictions don't come to fruition, blame my Magic 8-Ball and not me.
How many more moronic fighters will have to fail urinalyses due to illegal steroids until this epidemic of idiocy ends?
I have received quite a bit of emails from readers who are growing literally angry about the amount of MMA that is readily available these days. People are actually complaining that so many UFC, IFL, EliteXC and various other events can be seen every weekend. My question is this: How can you possibly not like these days? Sure the talent pool is a little watered down, but what would you rather have: more MMA or hardly anything?
Hit me up at www.myspace.com/sherdogsloan