Diaz fighting mad

JOSE RODRIGUEZ

, Last Updated: 7:58 AM ET

Nick Diaz has a face only a mother could love and a mouth most moms would deem worthy of a little soap and water.

The colourful Californian has built a reputation based on a solid chin, solid jiu-jitsu and a steady stream of verbal drubbings.

And despite some recent plastic surgery, Diaz plans to be as ugly and surly as ever tonight when he returns to the EliteXC cage for the first time since losing a title bout to KJ Noons last November.

Noons took the EliteXC lightweight belt with the upset TKO over Diaz after the ringside doctor halted the fight at the end of the first round due to multiple cuts around the bloodied Diaz's eyes.

In typical Diaz fashion, the 24-year-old Gracie jiu-jitsu fighter flipped off his opponent and stormed off in disgust.

His feelings for Noons -- who will defend his belt against former UFC scrapper Yves Edwards at tonight's Return of the King card in Hawaii -- haven't changed.

The Diaz camp says Noons is ducking a rematch.

Noons sees it different.

"I don't dodge anybody," says Noons, who is also a pro boxer and is on a mission to own belts in both sports.

"As a champion ... you fight the best. Unfortunately, Nick's not the best now.

"Of course, it would be great to fight Nick in the future. (But) Nick is such a big crybaby. Let him rebuild himself and then we'll fight again. I'd love an easy payday."

Noons says he needs no further proof than their last outing to show he's not sidestepping a rematch.

"It's ridiculous what Diaz's camp was saying. Why would they think I'm dodging him? I gave him plastic surgery on his face. That's a fact," says Noons. "As long as he can get a doctor's note, (I'm all for) round two.''

Diaz's surgery came after a specialist determined that the sharpness of the bones above Diaz's eyes would lead to more cuts in the future, potentially cutting his career short.

"Having the surgery has made me more confident,'' Diaz said. "I'm not worried about getting cut, which has plagued me my whole career.''

With the operation a success, Diaz believes it should be him, not Edwards, vying for the title tonight. But instead, Diaz -- who competes in triathlons in between fights -- will take on up-and-comer Muhsin Corbbrey.

"Noons is a little (expletive)," Diaz says. "Noons won on a cut. He is only a paper champion. His days are numbered.''

In what is likely a buildup to a rematch, the feud between Noons and Diaz is an ever-present subplot to tonight's card.

The card, available on Showtime and through The Fight Network in Canada, also includes an undercard fight between former EliteXC 185-lb. champ Murilo "Ninja" Rua and Tony Bonello.

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IN THIS CORNER

PATRICK "THE PREDATOR" COTE, MIXED MARTIAL ARTS

UFC middleweight standout Patrick Cote knows more about fighting than stepping into the caged Octagon. Until five years ago, Cote was a corporal with Quebec's famed Royal 22nd Regiment -- the Van Doos. He did a six-month tour in Bosnia and has many friends fighting in Afghanistan. Cote said is a recent interview that the landmine-dotted landscape of the former Yugoslavia has left a lasting impression on him and "I'm very strong mentally now and I'm sure the military helped me with that." Cote will take on Ricardo Almedia at UFC 86, July 5 in Las Vegas.

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ON THE CARD

FUTURE FIGHTS AND EVENTS

MMA: UFC 86 goes July 5 from the Mandalay Bay Events Centre in Las Vegas and features a light-heavyweight title fight between Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Forrest Griffin.

Affliction Banned goes July 19 from the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., featuring a heavyweight title fight between former PRIDE champ Fedor Emelianenko and ex-UFC belt- holder Tim Sylvia.

WRESTLING: WWE's Night of Champions goes June 25, with Triple H vs. John Cena and Kane vs. The Big Show already announced.


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