During the many chapters of his life, Kyle Noke has seen it all. He's looking to make the MMA chapter his most interesting. A former bodyguard for Steve "The Crocodile Hunter" Irwin, Noke stormed to a 3-0 mark in the UFC after an easy win tonight over Chris Camozzi in the pay-per-view opener at UFC 127.
A native of New South Wales, Australia, Noke served as one of Irwin's bodyguards for three years and also worked with his Aussie brother on his martial arts skills. Irwin, who passed away in 2006, was a huge MMA fan.
"Strong, very strong," Noke told MMAjunkie.com of Irwin's ability. "He had that strength from wrestling crocs all his life from pulling them in and holding them tight. We'd never let him get on top because he would just hold you down as tight as he could."
Irwin did more than employ Noke, he backed his fighting efforts.
"He's one of the reasons why I'm here where I am now. He sponsored me and paid for my first flights to the States. He really pushed me to follow my career and follow my passion," Noke told the Sydney Morning Herald. "He used to help us prepare for fights. He had such an eye for detail through what he had been doing for so many years. You only have to watch the guy on TV to know how much passion the guy has got. If I could channel that passion in fighting for wildlife then that's a great start."
Irwin was an MMA devotee and according to Noke, The reality star even entertained fighting and donating the proceeds to charity.
Noke looked inspired from the opening seconds. Camozzi charged him for a single-leg takedown attempt, but the Aussie thwarted the effort with some underhooks. He showed his power by pushing forward, scoring a takedown and falling into the mount position. Camozzi did a solid job of avoiding big shots for a few seconds, but allowed Noke to crawl up his body.
Noke (19-4-1, 3-0 UFC) appeared to be setting up an armbar or inverted triangle when Camozzi tried to escape out the backdoor. Noke was quick to react by taking Camozzi's back. The Aussie flattened out Camozzi and tapped him with a rear-naked choke at 1:35 of the first.
Camozzi was a familiar opponent for Noke. They were castmates on Season 11 of "The Ultimate Fighter." Noke lost via unanimous decision to Kris McCray during the TUF 11 quarterfinals, but he appeared to be one of the better prospects on the show.
Fighting out of Jackson's MMA in Albuquerque, Noke, 30, is just moving into his prime. He has a well-rounded game and a chance to do some damage in the UFC.