In the fallout from CBS’ second-ever telecast of EliteXC during its “Saturday Night Fights” program this past weekend, there were pockets of criticism that more wasn’t done to build towards future matchups. A chief criticism was that there was very little done to advance the grudge feud between EliteXC lightweight champion K.J. Noons and Nick Diaz.
Diaz came off like a superstar in front of his hometown crowd of Stockton. He also was able to TKO Thomas Denny in the second round and improve his winning streak to three. But noticeably absent was the presence of Noons along with footage of their June 14 melee in Hawaii at “Return of the King.”
There are growing rumblings that EliteXC has banned use of the Noons/Diaz melee that involved Diaz confronting Noons after his successful title defense over Yves Edwards with Noons’ father lunging at Diaz’s camp. The word is that the promotion is embarrassed by the altercation and doesn’t want to continue to replay the event. Dave Meltzer confirmed in the print edition of the Wrestling Observer that a ban is indeed in effect.
During a conference call leading up to “Unfinished Business,” then-ProElite Chairman Doug DeLuca stated for the record that the company wanted to distance itself from the Noons vs. Diaz brawl.
What happened in the cage in Hawaii is not something that ProElite or EliteXC is proud of.
“That’s not what the sport’s about,” said DeLuca. “I mean, the one thing that impresses me on a daily basis, and I never cease to be impressed, is the sportsmanship of these athletes. Just the respect and discipline of these guys the way they care for each other. This is a community here and it’s not something that we’re looking to underline what happened there. That was an unfortunate circumstance.
“There was a little bad blood, and I’m sure those two are going to get a chance to work that out in the cage down the road. I don’t know if K.J .is coming, but (you won’t be) seeing the melee in the cage in Hawaii.”
While what happened at “Return of the King” might not be the best image for the sport to project, it happened. It was without question the most talked about moment coming out of the event and it stirred up a lot of excitement for a prospective rematch between Noons and Diaz that up until that point, not too many people were excited about.
Obviously, you don’t need the footage of the melee in order to have the fight and promote it. However, what happened was real and it depicts the animosity that exists between the two fighters. If exploiting post-fight pull-a-part brawls were something that happened on a regular basis, that would be bad for the sport. But hyping something like that up once in a blue moon isn’t going to set the sport back.
Sure, the purists will be up in arms but the purists in many cases will watch no matter what. CBS and EliteXC did a great job of reaching the casual fan for the May 31 show. It didn’t do anywhere near as good of a job this past weekend. The June 14 footage is something that could get the casual fan interested in seeing Noons vs. Diaz II so if there is indeed a ban in place, I think that’s a mistake.