If you listen to Kyle Noke speak about his life and what role MMA plays in it, you get the feeling that he is one of the most laid back fighters in the sport. He takes everything in stride, not letting the bright lights of the UFC consume him.
At UFC 127: Penn vs. Fitch, Noke will be fighting in front of his fellow countryman as the UFC will make its second trip down under. His opponent, Chris Camozzi, will be waiting for him, prepped and ready to spoil his homecoming. But do you think that matters to a guy like Kyle Noke? Do you think the thought of Camozzi beating him in front of other Australians is something that circles his consciousness, weighing him down and taking focus away from the actual fight night.
Have a conversation with the man and you won’t think any of those things for a minute.
The thing about Noke is that he has been in the fight game for quite some time – nine years, to be exact. He has done the pre-fight preparation several times over for many organizations across the world. Simply put, he knows how to handle the pressure of fighting and is able to balance the emotion that stems from performing at a high level.
Even stepping on the big stage in front of his home crowd is something he looks at nonchalantly.
“To me, it’s just another fight,” Noke said on MMA Weekly Radio. “I’m taking it as any other fight. I’m sure once the fight is over, I’ll realize that I’ve just fought in my home country.”
The UFC – considered by most to be the elite mixed martial arts organization in the world – is the biggest break Noke has come across in his career. Prior to landing a roster spot with the Las Vegas-based promotion, Noke’s biggest challenge came when he faced Hector Lombard at Cage Fighting Championships in 2007. If you can say anything about Noke, it’s that he is the last person to prevent Lombard from collecting a win in an MMA fight. Of course, he didn’t defeat Lombard, only fought him to a draw, but no one else has done that to the current Bellator middleweight champion since.
Noke made his way to the UFC via the organization’s popular reality show, “The Ultimate Fighter.” Through that experience, the Australian fighter gained more than a place within the Zuffa brand. Noke found his stride and a renewed faith in the sport that he has been competing in for the last near decade.
It is the big break that he has been waiting for all this time.
“I’ve been fighting for a while… without any big breaks,” he said about fighting on TUF. “And then just being on the show gave me that big break and just renewed my enthusiasm in the sport.”
His UFC 127 opponent is someone that has walked a very similar path to Noke since his season of the The Ultimate Fighter. Chris Camozzi was on the same season of the reality show, but was forced to bow out due to a broken jaw suffered in his preliminary fight, which he won, earning him his spot on the show. If he had not been injured, there might have been a chance these two fighters would have met at some point during the show’s tournament.
The past is the past, however, and a Noke-Camozzi bout is now set to take place on the main card of a pay-per-view. Since the show, Noke has had ample opportunity to learn about his opponent, and that is exactly what he has done. Film and other study tools have been part of Kyle’s preparation for this fight, which gives him the confidence that he’ll perform well against stiff opposition.
“I didn’t know much about him before I got on (The Ultimate Fighter),” Noke said about Camozzi. “I know he was a tough guy and I’ve watched a few of his fights. I know he can take a big shot, so I’m in for a big, tough, long night.”