A lightweight contest likely to determine the next challenger for Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez’s belt last night at Strikeforce:Houston between KJ Noons and Jorge Gurgel ended controversially and for more reasons than one.
A talented grappler known for favoring a reckless striking match, Gurgel insisted that last night would be different and that he would use his vaunted jiu-jitsu skills against legitimate striker KJ Noons. Gurgel has mentioned that he was looking to implement his grappling in the second and third round but the Brazilian-turned-Ohioan would never get the chance. As the bell rang to signal the end of the first round KJ Noons landed a thunderous left hook that put Gurgel immediately on queer street. Gurgel received no medical attention in between rounds and was clearly still affected by the late blow in the second round. Noons didn’t need long to put away the wounded competitor but sullied his victory even more by landing what appeared to be an illegal knee to Gurgel’s head, prompting a stoppage (at :19 of the second round).
Noons explained that the illegal blows were landed in the heat of the moment and that he was never looking to fight dirty.
“By any means am I a dirty fighter, no,” Noons said. “I was just going in there to try to engage and get the round. I was in the heat of the moment and I couldn’t stop my hands as they were going. It wasn’t cheap and I’m not trying to be dirty – I’m just trying to finish the fight. I didn’t’ intentionally do it, it’s just the rush.
“I thought it was a great fight. He had a really good game plan. He was moving around the ring and was trying to get me to engage more. I just knew I had to not over commit on my punches and my kicks and I’d be able to keep standing. I’m not surprised he didn’t take me down.”
Gurgel made no excuses for the loss and also did not blame Noons for the illegal shots, opting instead to point the finger at the referee.
“I apparently got hit a couple of times when the round was up, but it’s not KJ’s fault,” Gurgel said. The referee is responsible for separating the fighters. I’m not taking anything away from (KJ). He landed a good right hand and a left hook.
“I have no excuses whatsoever. I came up short in my performance and I’m really upset. I thought I had his number. I’ve never been rocked before. I’ve had 20 professional fights and I’ve never felt that. KJ is a world class fighter.”
The loss drops Gurgel’s record to 13-7 and makes for his fifth loss in seven fights. Noons improves to 10-2 as a professional and may have earned himself a shot at Melendez’s belt by defeating Gurgel.