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Noons-Edwards, Diaz-Corbbrey Top Saturday’s EliteXC “Return of the King” Fight Card

EliteXC LogoOne night after it replays the history-making, first-ever primetime mixed martial arts event on network television, SHOWTIME will offer an outstanding card on Saturday, June 14, that will feature EliteXC lightweight champion and former Big Island resident, KJ Noons (6-2) of San Diego, Calif., against rejuvenated Yves Edwards (33-13-1) of Coconut Creek, Fla.

Preceding a main event matchup of excellent 160-pound strikers – Noons-Edwards should be one of the best fights EliteXC has produced – will be a terrific live televised card that will include 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.

The event, billed as “Return of the King’’ will emanate from the Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu and be televised on SHOWTIME at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast). It will be presented by Los Angeles-based ProElite, Inc.’s live fight division, EliteXC, led by Gary Shaw.

On Friday, June 13, at 11 p.m. ET/PT, SHOWTIME will re-broadcast the inaugural “CBS ELITEXC SATURDAY NIGHT FIGHTS’’ that were shown on May 31 on the CBS Television Network It, too, was presented by EliteXC.

Tickets for June 14 start at $25 and are available at all Ticketmaster locations, online at, 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.

This will be the second EliteXC show in Hawaii. The first came Sept. 15, 2007, at Blaisdell when SHOWTIME aired what, at the time, was the biggest, most noteworthy MMA event in state’s history.

“I don’t look back or compare fight cards but, from top to bottom, this truly is another great mixed martial arts card,’’ EliteXC Live Events President Gary Shaw said. “As always, it has a bit of everything.

“You have four quality lightweights in KJ, Yves, Nick and Muhsin, a fantastic matchup between Ninja and Bonello and much more. Fans in Hawaii are extremely knowledgeable. They know MMA. The last time we were here, the fans were into it from the start. I’m very excited about returning to Hawaii.’’

Also on the 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.

With the exception of the Noons-Edwards world title match, which won’t be lacking for punch or excitement and is scheduled for five, 5 minutes rounds, the fights are slated for three, 5-minute rounds.

In the top undercard fight streamed for free at after the SHOWTIME telecast, Kala Kolohe (6-1) of Waianae, Hawaii, will face Bubba McDaniel (9-4) of Dallas at 185 pounds.

The other undercard fights will feature fighters from Hawaii: Mark Oshiro (10-1) of Pearl City vs. Chris “Red Bull’’ Willems of Hilo at 140 pounds; Kaleo Kwan (8-8) of Waimanalo vs. Mike Aina (9-6) of Hilo at 160; Lolohea Mahe (1-0) of Kula, Maui, vs. Chris Bernard (1-1) of Waianae at 265 and PJ Dean (1-2) of Aiea vs. Dean Lista (1-1) of Kalihi. All the fights are set for three, 5-minute rounds.

Non-televised bouts (three, 3-minute rounds): Russell Doane (1-1) of Waipahu vs. Dwayne Haney (1-0) and Kepa Madeiros (debut) vs. Carl Barton (1-0) at 185. The latter three fighters are from Honolulu.

Noons shocked the MMA world when he captured the first-ever EliteXC lightweight belt with an upset TKO victory over Diaz during EliteXC’s fight card on Nov. 10, 2007, on SHOWTIME.

Surprising to everyone, the improving, fast-rising Noons dominated Diaz, peppering, slicing and dicing him with better boxing and standup skills while stuffing Diaz’ takedown attempts. The fight, however, ended in what many feel was controversial fashion when a ringside doctor halted matters following the first round due to multiple cuts above and near the bloodied Diaz’ eyes.

It was Noons’ second consecutive impressive performance since being defeated by Charles “Krazy Horse’’ Bennett during EliteXC’s historic Feb. 10, 2007, telecast on SHOWTIME – the first-ever mixed martial arts event presented on premium television. In his start before Diaz, Noons scored a devastating third-round knockout (knee) over Edson Berto on July, 27, 2007, on ShoXC.

Edwards, whose world class striking and ever-improving ground game could present serious problems, is deserving of a title shot given his recent extraordinary success and his decorated past. Since joining American Top Team, he has turned things around dramatically, going 3-0, all by stoppage.

In his last outing, the “Thugjitsu” founder produced a 4:56 first-round, highlight-reel flying knee knockout over Edson Berto at EliteXC’s “Street Certified” on Feb. 16, 2008, on SHOWTIME. Before that, Edwards submitted Alonzo Martinez and Nick Gonzalez (both by rear naked choke) in 2007.

Diaz will be fighting for the second time in five weeks. On May 11, 2008, he looked sensational while registering a dominating, first-round TKO over solid Japanese contender Katsuya Inoue in Japan. It was Diaz’ first start since he underwent plastic surgery after the Noons’ fight.

The procedure was done after a specialist determined that the sharpness of the bones above Diaz’ eyes would lead to more cuts and make it impossible for him to pursue a successful career. The surgery to repair significant scar tissue was a complete success.

Corbbrey, a talented up-and-comer, is coming off back-to-back wins on ShoXC, which also airs on SHOWTIME. He scored a unanimous decision over “Lethal’’ Lee Gibson on July 27, 2007, and a come-from-behind first-round submission (guillotine) over Bobby McMaster the following Oct. 26.

Due to some fans’ displeasure with the way the Noons-Diaz fight ended, there was talk of a return bout, but Noons refused a rematch, according to Diaz’ camp. Noons vehemently denies the accusation.

“I’ve won a lot of titles, but winning the EliteXC title was one of the most powerful things to happen to me,’’ said Noons, who was raised in Kailua-Kona until he was 16. “I’m just proud that I keep trying to get better and just follow my dreams.

“But I don’t dodge anybody. As a champion, you can’t duck anyone. You only have one option. You fight the best. Whoever that is, that’s who I fight. Unfortunately, Nick’s not the best now. I have to fight the top guy as the champion. Right now that guy is Yves Edwards.

“Of course, it would be great to fight Nick in the future. It would be a great payday for me. (But) Nick is such a big crybaby. Let him rebuild himself and then we’ll fight again. I’d love an easy payday.

“It’s ridiculous what Diaz’ camp was saying. Why would they think I’m dodging him? I gave him plastic surgery on his face. That’s a fact. As long as he can get a doctor’s note, (I’m all for) round two.’’

Said Diaz: “Noons is a little (expletive) and it doesn’t even matter what I am thinking about him because we are not fighting. Noons won on a cut. He is only a paper champion. His days are numbered.’’

Noons, who’s also a professional boxer – his goal is to be an MMA and world boxing champ — will be defending against a friend and vastly more experienced fighter who once was No. 1 in the world, hit the skids when he went 1-5 over a two-year stretch but now seems to be going as great as ever.

“As a friend and fan, I’m looking forward to the match,’’ said Noons, who’s won all his fights by KO or TKO. “Yves has a lot of class and this matchup is great for the sport. I’m glad to fight somebody of his caliber. He has great standup and says he’s going to stand with me, but they all say that.’’

Offered Edwards: “We go back a long way, and even though everyone is telling me ‘you have the experience factor’ and all that, I am not sleeping on this one. I have a lot of respect for KJ and he’s a really tough guy. I am really excited to get to fight him.

“It’s never fun to fight a friend, but if you’re not in this business to win world titles, you’re in the wrong business. I want to get the gold as soon as possible. KJ’s got that gold and I’ve got to go through him. He’s a good kid, but he has the gold. If my mom had that belt, I’d fight her. That’s just how it works.”

“I’ve got to be selfish and beat up a kid I wish good things for because he has something I want. So, for (this fight), our friendship goes out the window. My stand up is equal if not better than KJ’s and I have other options as well. I’m going to ask him questions he’ll find hard to answer.’’

The “Thug-jitsu” founder, Edwards capped his amazing resurgence with a brutal, highlight-reel, one-legged knee to the grill, first-round knockout over Berto at the EliteXC show Feb. 16, 2009. Along the way, Edwards fended off a guillotine choke before scoring a spectacular flying knee KO at 4:56.

Diaz, who refers to Noons as “Mr. Hit And Run,’’ is one of the world’s most recognizable and exciting fighters. He possesses some of the sport’s slickest jiu-jitsu. Win or lose, the talented, ever-colorful Diaz has participated in some of the greatest, most exciting fights in the sport’s history.

Diaz is the only fighter to stop EliteXC middleweight champ Robbie Lawler and he has wins over Josh Neer, Drew Fickett and Chris Lytle. Diaz’ incredible submission victory (gogaplata) over Takanori Gomi in a February 2007 fight that went into the books as a No Contest still has the MMA world buzzing.

In Japan in May, Diaz delivered the kind of punching power that few thought he was interested in dishing out. Those sparring sessions with 2004 Olympic gold medalist Andre Ward are apparently paying dividends after all. Most importantly, however, was that Diaz’ face held up.

“Having the surgery has made me more confident,’’ Diaz said. “I’m not worried about getting cut, which has plagued me my whole career.’’

Like the fans who know they can never count out Diaz and that he can go for days — he competes in triathlons when he is not fighting – Nick was none too pleased with the doctor’s decision to halt the bout with Noons. But he knows enough not to underestimate Corbbrey.

“I’m really looking forward to my upcoming fight and I’m focusing only on it,’’ Diaz said. “I won’t be looking past this guy. I don’t look past any fighter.’’

The fiery Corbbrey, a well-rounded fighter, is on a three-fight winning streak. He has experience as a pro Muay Thai fighter and boxer, trains jiu-jitsu and has competed in many grappling tournaments.

But this, by far, is a massive step up in class and will be the toughest assignment of his career. “I’m looking forward to continue to making a name for myself and fighting the best,’’ Corbbrey said. “Nick is one of the best in the world. I am grateful for the opportunity. This will be a great fight.’’

Rua will be making his 2008 debut and first start since he scored a second-round submission (rear naked choke) over Xavier Foupa-Pokam on Dec. 1, 2007. A jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai black belt, Ninja was scheduled to fight on the CBS EliteXC May 31 card but had to withdraw with a foot injury.

“It was only a minor thing and now I am fine and ready to go,’’ said Rua, who captured the first EliteXC middleweight title with a victory over Joey Villasenor on June 22, 2007, but lost to Lawler in his first defense on EliteXC’s “Uprising” the following Sept. 15 at the Blaisdell Arena on SHOWTIME.

A classy fighter whose aggressive style makes for scintillating scraps, Ninja is prepared for a rough go against the highly regarded Bonello, who many regard as the top MMA fighter in Australia.

“He’s a good fighter who’s been undefeated a long time,’’ said Ninja, who is in the Brazilian Hall of Fame. “But that will change soon. I’ve trained hard. I want the chance to win back the EliteXC belt.’’

Bonello, known as “The Gun,’’ may not be a household name in America, but a King of the Cage veteran is one Australia’s most well known fighters, has multiple title belts in different weight divisions, holds a Black Belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and has standup skills to rival most boxers and kick-boxers.

A nasty fighter with serious potential, Bonello submits most everybody. Fourteen of his 16 wins ended in the first round. While he hasn’t consistently fought at the level Ninja has, many feel the guy is a stud and a real threat to win this one.

“Fighting on this type of show against this class of opponent is what I want,’’ Bonello said. “It is exciting. I want to fight many A level fighters. I’ll win and lose some but I’ll always give 100 percent.’’

The hard-hitting Herman won his EliteXC and 2008 debut with a third-round knockout over Mario Rinaldi Feb.16, 2008, in Miami. It was the seventh knockout for Herman, who went more than one round for the first time in a career that began in December 2006.

Waterman, who turned pro in 1999, has won two in a row. In his last start, a veteran who is nicknamed “H20”submitted (keylock) Analu Brash in the second round on Jan. 26, 2008.

Feijao made his EliteXC and 2008 debut on Feb. 16 in Miami, winning by 2:17, first-round knockout (knee to the body) over John Doyle.

A fighter as strong as an ox, hits like a truck and is surprisingly agile for his size (he’s a large light heavy and former heavyweight), Feijao would be undefeated if not for a disqualification loss to Marco Cruz on June 16, 2007.

Cole has won three straight and four out of five, including a 0:42, first-round submission (armbar) over Mike Kyle March 29, 2008, on SHOWTIME. “That was by far my biggest victory, but no way I expected it to end that quickly,’’ said Cole, who trained out of a garage for the fight.

If the swift victory came as a surprise to Cole, it was a total shock to his mother. “My mom didn’t even know I was doing MMA and I have been doing it three years,’’ Cole said. “She thought I was boxing. My seven sisters all knew what I was up to, but they didn’t tell her either.’’

Renowned SHOWTIME announcer Mauro Ranallo will handle play-by-play for EliteXC with former world wrestling superstar Bill Goldberg and The Fight Professor, Stephen Quadros, serving as color analysts. The executive producer is David Dinkins, Jr. with Bob Dunphy directing.

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