Notes: Olympian challenges Fedor; Noons-Diaz off

It is common in the U.S. after an athlete has just won the biggest event of his life, to say that he’s going to Disneyland.

Would the opposite of going to Disneyland, billed as the happiest place on Earth, be getting in the ring with Fedor Emelianenko, who may be the real world’s most dangerous human?

In Beijing, China, after winning the gold medal in the superheavyweight division in judo this past week, Japan’s Satoshi Ishii said he wanted to fight “Emelianenko Fedor,” as the legendary Russian fighter is known in Japan.

Ishii, 21, has never fought MMA style. The idea of the match may sound laughable to MMA aficionados, but New Year’s Eve in Japan is traditional for gimmick performers, whether they be Japanese entertainment personalities, giants, or athletes who were successful in other sports, doing fights. With Ishii becoming a national hero in Japan and the sport fading in popularity, such a match would draw the kind of interest that Emelianenko against a top fighter could never do.

Ishii would be the third Japanese judo gold medalist to go into MMA if he’s serious. The first, Hidehiko Yoshida, was one of the key people in the high point of the Pride promotion. But Yoshida was 33, and a decade past winning his medal at 172 pounds when he started in the sport. Ishii is younger and a true heavyweight, but success in judo hardly guarantees top-level fighting ability in MMA.

Emelianenko in a gimmick match on network television is almost a New Year’s Eve tradition. If his hand injury heals and allows him to go this year, it will make the sixth year he’s fought on that date. With the exception of a win over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, the other matches have been against a popular pro wrestler, a 6-5, 400 pound tub of goo with turtle-like reflexes, a kickboxing star with little MMA experience, and a 7-2, 367-pound South Korean giant who only had one MMA fight.

Noons-Diaz rematch falls apart

After an in-ring skirmish on June 14, a potential K.J. Noons (7-2) vs.

Nick Diaz (18-7) lightweight title match became Elite XC’s most-anticipated rematch.

The promotion earmarked the bout for its Oct. 4 CBS show from the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, FL. But not only have they been unable to make the match, the promotion claims they can’t even find their lightweight champion to find out why.

“I’m drinking milk and looking on the carton and see a picture of K.J.

Noons,” joked Elite XC matchmaker Jared Shaw, when noting the problem.

“Nick Diaz is the No. 1 contender. The people want to see this fight.”

Shaw put the onus of blame on Noons’ management team, saying haven’t even been able to directly talk with Noons.

“His management won’t even return our calls,” said Shaw, who was still hopeful the fight could be salvaged on the show.

“It’s money,” he said. “It’s always about money.”

The crux of the issue appears to be the contract Noons signed before he won the championship, beating Diaz to become the first champion on Nov.

10 in Corpus Christi when the match was stopped at the end of the first round due to cuts on Diaz’s forehead. Noons, a professional boxer, showed more skill than Diaz in the stand-up in winning the first round, opening the cuts that led to the stoppage.

Noons’ contract calls for $23,000 for the fight, while Diaz, the challenger, earned $60,000 in his most recent fight on July 26 in Stockton, Calif., beating Thomas Denny. But Diaz was a bigger star than Noons at the time both joined the promotion.

Shaw noted that Noons has a valid contract, and as champion, owes it to the title to defend against the top contender. He said Elite XC stood by Noons when he was knocked out by Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett in 2007 on the company’s first show. Because the fight would be on CBS, and on a show expected to do substantial ratings with Kimbo Slice and Gina Carano as headliners, Shaw noted that the exposure would be the best thing for his career, and that he’d also have the opportunity to make far more in sponsorship money than on a Showtime event.

Noons turned down appearing on the first CBS show because Elite XC tried to tie-in his appearing with him signing a long-term contract.

Noons had retained his title in a 48-second win over Yves Edwards on June 14, in Honolulu, where he grew up. Diaz, who defeated Muhsin Corbbrey earlier in the show, was brought into the cage for a face-off to build the anticipated match. It turned into a free-for-all with both camps, including Karl Noons Sr., K.J.’s father, a kickboxer in the 70s, going after Diaz, who he thought was disrespectful, and having to be pulled off. Diaz and younger brother Nate Diaz, a UFC star, got out of the cage and flipped off the Noons family.

An email sent to Noons’ representatives on Wednesday seeking comment was not immediately returned.

Dave Meltzer covers mixed martial arts for Yahoo! Sports. Send Dave a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Wednesday, Aug 20, 2008