Dedicated Noke driven to win world UFC crown
UFC fighter Kyle "KO" Noke wants to be positioned for a long-awaited world title shot by the year's end.
Back home on the Coast for a break, the US-based veteran is convinced he has the arsenal to become UFC welterweight champion - and approaching his 33rd birthday, he feels his best years are ahead of him.
But Noke's bid to enhance his world title claim has been stalled by injury.
A shoulder injury and then a wrist injury could not have come at a worse time for him, after he resuscitated his title credentials with a 45-second knockout of highly-rated American Charlie Brenneman in UFC 152 last September.
The win snapped a two-fight losing sequence.
Prior to that, Noke's star was on the ascent thanks to a five-fight winning streak, including three consecutive UFC triumphs.
The shoulder injury ruled him out of a planned UFC homecoming fight on the Gold Coast last December.
He is still waiting for doctor's approval to resume training, but hopes to be fighting by May or June.
"By the end of this year I definitely want to be heading towards title contention," Noke said.
"I think I'm ready. I train with the best guys in the world.
"I know I'm right up there with those guys - I compete on an equal level with those guys.
"It's a matter of getting my body healed and getting back in there."
For a long time, Noke has trained under the esteemed Greg Jackson in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Jackson's squad includes two of the sport's biggest stars, light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and Georges St-Pierre, who rules Noke's welterweight division.
Noke has been fighting as a professional for about seven years, getting his start on the Coast, and has the good record of 20 wins, six losses and one draw.
His all-round versatility is reflected in the breakdown of his performance, with eight of his wins (40%) coming by submission, seven (35%) by KO and five (25%) by decision.
Exactly half his losses were by decision, he submitted twice, and in February 2008 American Scott "Hands of Steel" Smith landed a knockout punch seven seconds into round two.
Noke showed his ability and character by rebounding with the previously mentioned five-fight winning run.
"I just want to get back in there again and train for a fight again," he said.
"I feel great. I feel like I haven't hit my prime yet."
Noke first tasted MMA through the Warriors Realm fight nights.
He will be on hand when the event returns to the Coast at Maroochydore Basketball Stadium on March 16.