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Nick Diaz decisions K.J. Noons in grudge match

Strikeforce welterweight champion Diaz successfully defends belt

It took nearly three years, but Nick Diaz finally got his revenge over K.J. Noons.

The Strikeforce welterweight champion avenged his only loss in his past 13 fights Saturday, defeating Noons by unanimous decision in a five-round title fight in San Jose, Calif.

The two met previously in November 2007, with Noons scoring a TKO win after opening numerous cuts on Diaz’s face to force a doctor’s stoppage.

Although striking proved to be the key to Noons’ victory in that fight, Diaz (23-7) turned the tables on him Saturday, taking the rematch despite rarely trying to take it to the ground where many believed he held the biggest advantage.

“I’ll beat this guy on the ground or standing up,” Diaz said following the win. “It’s hard not to go for the takedown because it makes me look really bad, as if I need to do that. I’ll beat this guy in a boxing match.”

Diaz hurt Noons on the feet early, scoring the fight’s lone knockdown on a short, straight right punch in the first round.

Noons came back strong in the second round, opening up a cut near the right eye of Diaz and pushing the action.

The momentum, however, seemed to shift back to Diaz at the start of the third and remained in his corner the rest of the way. Although the fight proved to be close, there was little doubt Diaz did enough to win, taking the decision by scores or 48-47, 49-47 and 49-46.

“He beat me fair and square,” Noons said. “That’s it. Good job, Nick.”

The rematch was billed as one of the biggest grudge matches of the year and certainly lived up to it as both guys traded taunts throughout the 25-minute affair.

In the end, however, it appeared that most of the bad blood had been let. Following the announcement of the decision, the two rivals traded a hug before heading back to their teams.

“No offense or disrespect,” said Diaz, motioning toward Noons. “It’s all over with.”

In reality, the competition between the two might be far from done, as Strikeforce will likely be open to the idea of matching up two opponents again who combined to throw 1,054 strikes in a single fight.

If that’s the case, Noons said, he’ll be ready for another shot.

“Whatever the fans want to see,” Noons said. “I’ll do that or I’ll work my way back up.”

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