EliteXC has announced via their website that EliteXC Lightweight Champion KJ Noons has been stripped of his title for refusing to defend it against Nick Diaz. EliteXC Head of Fight Operations Jeremy Lappen said, "We are stripping KJ of his championship belt for refusing to defend against Diaz. It’s a very unfortunate situation but we cannot have belt-holders who refuse to fight the top contenders. We want champions who will fight anyone, anytime, anyplace.That’s the mentality all champions should have."
In late August, the news broke that EliteXC had offered Noons a spot on their October 4 CBS fight card against Nick Diaz.Noons turned the fight down, claiming Diaz was not the number one contender. Later he released this statement, which outlined all of his reasons for refusing the fight. It turned out the bigger issue was KJ's belief he was not compensated as well as he should.
It is unfortunate the fight never materialized because it would have been a solid addition to the event. EliteXC needs all the help they can get and losing out on a fight that would have had diehard MMA fans tuning in is yet another strike against the promotion. The thing most do not understand about Mixed Martial Arts is the casual fans are not the people you need to hook. Casual fans are fickle and tune out when the events are not full of recognizable superstars, which happened with the last EliteXC CBS event. Diehard MMA fans are the backbone of the sport. When they get behind a promotion, they watch regardless of who is on the card. The trade-off is the promotion must occasionally give the diehards fights they want to see. Noons/Diaz would have been one of those fights. It would not influence casual fans to turn on CBS, but a whole host of diehards would have at least watched that fight.
For Noons, being stripped of the EliteXC Lightweight Title is a major setback. He is a relatively young fighter without mainstream name recognition, who is still under contract with EliteXC. By defying the promotion, he has stalled his own career. His options are to finish out his contract with EliteXC, which would relegate him to mid-card status. Or, he could seek his release through legal action. He has mentioned that EliteXC did not promote or book him boxing matches, which he believes is outlined in his contract. This could be the legal issue his lawyer uses to gain his release. EliteXC is in financial turmoil and it would surprise me if they spent much money on lawyers to keep Noons under contract. At this point the money could be used for many other things, which would benefit the promotion much more than a whiney 160 lbs fighter who refuses to fight top competition.