SAN JOSE, Calif. – A grudge rematch that fans, media, and the confident fighters themselves have been clamoring for since the first fight ended in bloody controversy nearly three years ago, will take place on Saturday, Oct. 9, when KJ Noons (9-1), fresh off a knockout victory last Saturday, challenges STRIKEFORCE World Welterweight (170 pounds) Champion Nick Diaz (22-7, 1 NC) in the main event at HP Pavilion here, live on SHOWTIME® (10 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast).
In the co-feature, undefeated STRIKEFORCE Women’s Welterweight World Champion Sarah Kaufman (12-0) will make the second defense of her 135-pound title against No. 1 contender and Dutch superstar Marloes Coenen (17-4).
Another featured fight will pit an emerging star from the STRIKEFORCE Challengers series, up-and-coming Luke Rockhold (7-1), against the vastly more experienced, 2000 Olympic Games wrestling silver medalist, Matt “The Law” Lindland (22-7), in a middleweight (185 pounds) contest.
Tickets go on sale to the general public this Saturday, Aug. 28, at 10 a.m. PT online at Ticketmaster.com, at HP Pavilion ticket office, or by phone at (800) 745-3000.
A special presale opportunity for “STRIKEFORCE Insider” e-newsletter subscribers begins today, Wednesday, Aug. 25 at 10 a.m. PT. Sign up to become a “STRIKEFORCE Insider” at http://www.strikeforce.com/insider.html.
Diaz has not lost a fight since he faced Noons, losing via disputed first-round TKO on Nov. 7, 2007. Diaz, of Stockton, Calif., has been devastating in recent outings, notching seven in a row. The talented, outspoken, no-nonsense brawler also boasts a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt.
The always-dangerous Noons is an aggressive and prolific striker who has won his last six fights, including the thrilling slugfest against Diaz that ended when the cageside physician halted the proceedings due to excessive cuts around Diaz’ eyes.
Since that fight, there has been no love lost between the pair of brash fighters. Seven months after their first fight, on June 14, 2008, the fighters and their camp members nearly came to blows in the cage after the fighters registered victories in separate bouts.
“Nick has no class, he’s a bum, a piece of (expletive) and he and his team disrespected my family and I with their gestures and trash talk and tried to upstage my fight,’’ said Noons after the near-fracas.
Offered Diaz: “I’m sorry about what happened in the cage afterward, but I didn’t start it. His guys were talking (expletive) to us.’’
Diaz is coming off a first-round submission (armbar) over fellow superstar Hayato “Mach” Sakurai last May 29 at DREAM 14 in Japan. The six-foot, 27-year-old Diaz won the STRIKEFORCE title with a convincing first-round TKO (punches) over Marius “The Whitemare” Žaromskis on Jan. 30, 2010.
The 5-foot-11, 27-year-old Noons, who was born and raised in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, registered a spectacular, crowd-pleasing second-round knockout over Jorge Gurgel during last Saturday’s STRIKEFORCE: Houston, live on SHOWTIME.
Kaufman, a former ballet dancer, retained her belt for the first time with an explosive third-round body slam KO over Roxanne Modafferi at STRIKEFORCE Challengers in Everett, Wash., on July 23.
The personable, hard-hitting, 5-foot-5, 24-year-old Kaufman, of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, has scored knockouts in nine of her 12 victories.
Coenen, 29, will appear before an audience for the first time since suffering a hard-fought third-round TKO loss to Cris Cyborg for the STRIKEFORCE Women’s Middleweight (145 pounds) Championship at STRIKEFORCE: Miami last Jan. 30.
The game and courageous, 5-foot-9 Coenen gave Cyborg one of her toughest fights. A member of Holland’s Team Golden Glory, Coenen has been a mixed martial artist since the age of 14. She will be moving down in weight to challenge for the title.
Rockhold, of Santa Cruz, Calif. will bring a six-fight winning streak into what figures to be the toughest assignment of his career. Many feel the 25-year-old is one of STRIKEFORCE’s next great middleweight stars. He has been victorious by submission in all but one of his wins. A member of Team AKA in San Jose, Rockhold won his last start with a first-round TKO (knees to body) over Paul Bradley on Feb. 26, in San Jose.
Lindland, of Oregon City, Ore, brought home the silver in Greco-Roman wrestling. He’s fought the best in a 13-year MMAs career, including the famed Fedor Emelianenko. An All-American at the University of Nebraska before turning pro in 1997, Lindland holds victories over Pat Miletich, Jeremy Horn, former UFC welterweight champion Carlos Newton and remains one of only two men to submit Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Travis Lutter.
In his most recent fight, the six-foot-tall Lindland scored a third-round TKO over “King” Kevin Casey on May 21 during a STRIKEFORCE Challengers in Portland, Ore.