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‘Strikeforce: Houston’ Aftermath: Pretty Much Everyone Does the Worst Possible Job During Gurgel vs. Noons

(VidProps: YouTube/KarelMMArts)

Even 12 hours later, it’s difficult to fully grasp the ways in which Jorge Gurgel’s fight with KJ Noons turned into a terrible abortion at Saturday night’s Strikeforce: Houston show. Suffice it to say, a lot of things went horribly wrong and nearly everyone involved failed miserably to do their jobs.

As he almost always does, Gurgel came into the fight with the worst possible game plan, essentially guaranteeing defeat before the bout even started. Meanwhile, Noons crammed not one, but two blatantly illegal strikes into just over five minutes of fighting. For his part, referee Kerry Hatley seemed not to notice either of the infractions, then totally bungled one of the more obvious stoppage situations you’ll ever encounter in MMA. All the while the Strikeforce broadcast team reconfirmed for viewers its complete inability to adjust on the fly when even the slightest controversy rears its head.

First the obvious stuff: At the very least, Noons should’ve lost a point for his tardy punch on Gurgel at the end of round one and most probably, this fight should never have been allowed to see round two. After the knee? Well, you’re probably looking at DQ, or at best a no contest. Instead, Noons rolls out of Houston a big winner.

Note that the audio in the above video may be a little off. As it happened live, Noon clearly blasts Gurgel with a left hook after the bell to end the first round. Intentional? No, but Noons’ purpose shouldn’t matter when it comes to enforcing MMA’s unified rules. The blow is certainly illegal and Gurgel is obviously on queer street after absorbing it. Referee Hatley has to physically drag him to his corner during the break. After that though, the ref doesn’t do a thing. Because the camera remains in Gurgel’s corner during the one-minute respite between rounds, it’s clear that no medical official checks to see if Gurgel is mentally fit to continue before the start of the second. This despite the fact that the audio track makes it clear the fighter has no idea what just happened.

Wonder of all wonders, the BJJ ace gets knocked pretty much cold 13 seconds into the next round with the first two real strikes Noons throws. With Gurgel on the mat looking absolutely done, Noons first appeals for a stoppage (give him credit for that, at least) but then adds the illegal knee a couple seconds later. Again, no reaction at all from Hatley, who first seems hesitant to stop the fight and then appears to either totally miss or not give a damn about the knee to a downed and helpless Gurgel.

Now for the secondary stuff: Just about every chance they get, the Strikeforce broadcast team seems intent on making themselves look like fools and this fight was a great example.

After round one, the three-man team demonstrates an across-the-board failure to react to Noons’ first illegal blow. Aside from a sputtering metaphor from Mauro Ranallo – "He wrung his bell after the bell!" – and Frank Shamrock’s assurances that the punch is somehow OK because Noons throws it “in the flow” of his combination, very little is made of it. Play-by-play announcer Gus Johnson even comments that Noons has just shown “his superior boxing” by dropping his opponent after the bell.

Their reaction to the knee is even worse. To his credit, Ranallo is the only member of the team to respond to the illicit nature of shot for 10 or so seconds. Johnson is still wondering aloud if the fight is over while Noons scales the wall of the cage in celebration and Gurgel stumbles around the mat trying to figure out what’s going on. Shamrock, who has always had trouble determining when knees are illegal, then engages in a sniping back-and-forth with Ranallo, because even after the slow-motion replay "The Legend" remains convinced the knee was A-OK. I swear, sometimes it seems like this dude is watching a slightly different version of the fights than the rest of the world.

To wrap the package of incompetence up in a neat little bow, Johnson totally fails to ask Noons even one question about the stoppage or the illegal shots during their postfight interview. The ineptitude of it all actually made me wish Joe Rogan was there to show Gus how a professional might do it.

As for Gurgel, his willingness to eschew his grappling skills in some misguided attempt to be “exciting” puts my personal interest at ever watching him fight again at around zero percent. One of the reasons I watch MMA instead of, say, kickboxing is because I want to see great grapplers grapple. I don’t want to see them run around pretending to be strikers en route to getting knocked out by dudes like KJ Noons. That’s just sad.

Cagepotato Comments

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Emopinata- August 24, 2010 at 6:55 am
punch was at the bell
knee missed,
dumbasses. get good
PELF- August 23, 2010 at 8:00 pm
btw, I do think the 'shot after the bell' KJ landed was a clean one. As many have said, the shot would hit anyway - with or without the bell.

PELF- August 23, 2010 at 7:56 pm
" One of the reasons I watch MMA instead of, say, kickboxing is because I want to see great grapplers grapple. I don’t want to see them run around pretending to be strikers en route to getting knocked out by dudes like KJ Noons. That’s just sad. "

flyingogoplata- August 23, 2010 at 6:48 am
@ H Chinaski

There's a whole lotta shit you don't feel when you're barely conscious...just because Gurgel didn't feel the knee doesn't make it okay. Most guys don't remember being KO'd but it sure as hell doesn't mean it didn't hurt them.
Dagnut- August 23, 2010 at 6:43 am
What complete over reaction, bad refereeing is bad refereeing. Noons knee was a bit snaky but we've seen much much worse, strikeforce isn't the best but to pull it down over this is ridiculous.
H Chinaski- August 23, 2010 at 12:35 am
Although it is not his place to decide these things (and he says so himself, as well) Gurgel is true professional and a class act, and he didn't blame Noons OR the officiating for this loss*. Gurgel says that Noons 'late blow' wasn't illegal and on top of that, the knee strike at the end Gurgel "didn't even feel.*"

With a million other issues in the MMA community that are in dire need of attention, why all the pouting over this unfortunate but legitimate fight? My god people, disagree with what I say fine, but as an MMA fan, please show some class and take a cue from Gurgel and move on to things a little bit more deserving...

*post fight interview with Gurgel from mmafighting(dot)com
King_KP- August 22, 2010 at 11:24 pm
I need to ask. Why hasn't anyone commented on the obvious size disadvantage in this fight. Noons looks almost 2 weight classes heavier then gurgel. Why are these two even fighting each other. wtf
Casa de los pantelones- August 22, 2010 at 10:14 pm
You guys are tards...maybe it's the video quality...the punch was clearly at the bell, fine. The knee...the knee was a half hearted attempt that didn't even connect with anything...gurgel was already falling backwards.

Illegal, yes, blatant no.
SnallTrippin- August 22, 2010 at 9:40 pm
To be fair Gurgel has been doing this same crap for like 10 years...
mt59801- August 22, 2010 at 8:21 pm
It's a sad day for MMA when regional shows and shit like "war on the mainland" continue to outclass strikefarce at every opportunity. I like hendo and diaz but even that isn't enough to make me watch this shit again. These clowns even make the affliction events look good.

As far as the late hit, it was an illegal blow intentional or not. So if it happened in the first round wouldn't this just be a no contest? Of course that would have required the shit ref to stop fight because of the illegal hit and not just watch the poor sob do the drunk dance back to his corner.
Mike Russell- August 22, 2010 at 5:36 pm
Paul Daley's punch on Koscheck didn't land either, but the intent landed him a 30-day suspension...
Firestorm- August 22, 2010 at 4:54 pm
That punch in the first round is excused, he threw it pretty much the second the bell rang. But the knee was illegal and no excuse for that.
H Chinaski- August 22, 2010 at 4:01 pm
Yes, clearly Noons' strike landed after the bell, but it was just as clear that Noons had setup to throw the strike before the bell sounded.

Unlike the article's author and many of the responses, I'm not going pretend to possess supreme-court-esque level of knowledge regarding this issue and the unified rules. However, going off precedent alone, the blow has to be legit. This sort of strike has been thrown/landed many times before without any discussion over rule-infractions - the only difference here is that Noons knocked him out, so more people got upset. But, if you look back to other high profile MMA fights and you will see that the precedence has already been set that these split-second late blows are allowed, so long as they are clearly unintentional.

It is highly unfortunate Gurgel as he had already started lowering his guard, but Noons shouldn't be held in the wrong for finishing a strike that he had already started to throw before the bell. Going solely off the written rules, I've yet to be convinced with unwavering certainty that Noons' strike was illegal or legal. However, precedence set by other fights shows that Noons didn't do wrong.

And no, I am not a Noons fan, and yes, I thought that the play-by-play and officiating was beyond terrible. But I'm a little let down here by CP's outspoken, overactive sense of nobility and/or 'fairness' in trying to peg Noons for a basterd for the 'late' blow. There's so much to gripe over in MMA regulation and officiating, it seems rather counterproductive to throw a hissy over this. I heard 4chan's low on white knights, why don't you try over there?
orlandomac- August 22, 2010 at 2:17 pm
Clearly the majority around here cannot read or did not watch the fight live.

"Note that the audio in the above video may be a little off. As it happened live, Noon clearly blasts Gurgel with a left hook after the bell to end the first round."
This was taken directly from the article above.

Which means:


There is no question the punch was late.. except to anyone that didn't watch it live.

Bell rang then punch thrown.

Although if you are arguing the case of the late punch as CP is here.. you should not link to a video who's sync is off. It makes you look like you are as incompetent as those who work for Strikeforce. Better not to show a video and warn that other videos are out of sync.

As for SHO the whole announcing team is useless... the refing was brutal most of the night except for Big John who was clearly communicating and in control when Mo wasn't.

The knee even in slow mo from Noons is thrown to the head.. whether it fully landed or was partially blocked the intent was still there..

I too hate the Diaz brothers and will also be cheering against Noons.. hoping for a Stockton cage curb stomp.

As for Gurgel.. he clearly is proof why commissions have to be careful who they give a license to. He could be a falality.

He should not fight and he should definitely not coach. Retire.

ithertz- August 22, 2010 at 2:02 pm
the knee hit gurgel's arm
Jaye Priest- August 22, 2010 at 1:40 pm
Wow. I extremely dislike KJ Noons............That first illegal blow was so obvious and blatant, I don't know how that chick missed it....The bell rang and Jorge dropped his hands-(because he heard the bell) and home boy cracked'em with a sucker punch. WTF ?????? Then the illegal knee---Wow----You gotta be stupid and blind to miss that one.......The Athletic Commission needs to train these Ref's............Oh yeah-I can't wait for my boy Nick Diaz to smash KJ's face!!!!!!!!!!!!!
DangadaDang- August 22, 2010 at 1:16 pm
Are you serious CP? The noons strike at the end of the round wasnt anywhere NEAR an illegal blow. For Christs sake, the bell sounds as K.J. is already half way through his swing. Can you stop a punch in a millisecond? No sirs, you cannot.

I will agree about the knee though,
Mr_Misanthropy- August 22, 2010 at 12:49 pm
Where's that feeble minded troll that was getting all pissy with me for bagging on Strokefarts yesterday?
Palmtreeguy- August 22, 2010 at 12:41 pm
Gus Johnson is a total dip shit. He couldn't be more dreadful when he speaks not to mention his pauses between comments and questions to the fighters. You would think that after those pauses would bring out some good all around questions regarding what just occurred in the fight. But oh no. Good ol' Gus just keeps on helping us to fall asleep while we wait for that certain fight to happen that Strikeforce can build their future after.

And seriously now...can the referee's be anymore incompetent? Big John aside, the refs in all the other fights and all the fights in the Challengers show last weekend were absolutely BRUTAL.

I have to add one more thing. Bobby Lashley looked brutal in his fight, but come on now, the ref stops the fight with 33 seconds left in round two when Lashly has his opponent pinned on his back? That was ridiculous I must add, and I bet Lashley would have hung on and squeaked out a cheap victory if that didn't happen.

Almost North- August 22, 2010 at 12:04 pm
That knee hit roughly the same as the Daley punch after the fight on Koscheck. Mostly blocked.
easy21- August 22, 2010 at 12:01 pm
@ Disco-Platypus I was gonna post the same thing. I have it recorded and watched the replay several times. It looked to me like the knee glanced off Gurgels forearm. Gurgel only fell because he was already rocked and off balance. Though Noons never should have through it in the first place
knucklesamitch- August 22, 2010 at 11:53 am
The ref should be FIRED and never allowed to ref a sanctioned MMA fight again. illegal or not, intentional or not, that ref failed TWICE to step between the two fighters in both instances wear Noons was able to land the questionable shots.

As for the commentary trio...This team needs to be disbanded. First, Gus Johnson should stick to sub-par Madden commentary, Shamrock should be replaced by Pat Miletich, and Mauro Ranallo should just crawl in a hole somewhere.

As for Noons...I don't know why, but I just hate that guy...I think it's his faggish smugness. At any rate, a rematch with Nick Diaz may be the only time I will ever route for a Diaz brother in my life.
Disco-Platypus- August 22, 2010 at 11:50 am
I must be the only person here who owns a DVR/PVR. In slow-motion, the knee-strike very clearly does not strike Gurgel in the head - which, as far as I know, would be the grounds for NC/DQ in this particular instance. Given that knee strikes to the body of a downed opponent are permitted, the fact that KJ Noons' knee strike barely grazed Gurgel's hands suggests a DQ would not be warranted, here. This being said, the referee may be able to issue an "unsportsmanlike conduct-esque" foul to Noons if he deemed that the intention was to strike Gurgel on the head.

On the punch, the left hook was already midair well before the bell and, at least in my opinion, connected at more or less precisely the same time.
andoy162- August 22, 2010 at 11:47 am
gurgel has got to be the dumbest fighter in the mma world.
a jitz black belt who loves to stand up with a striker.
always gets beat up in all of his fights win or loose.
kjnoonsdad- August 22, 2010 at 11:39 am
long time reader, first time poster....I was all around sickened by that fight, and as mc obscene pointed out, one of those goons did say something like " this is mma", shortly after the illegal knee. Strikeforce has a bad habit of blaming "mma" as a whole for their fuckups.....what a joke