Former UFC star claims Steve Irwin wanted to be ‘punched’ before TV interviews

Australian UFC veteran Kyle Noke described how Steve Irwin was a major fan of mixed martial arts and wanted to face megastar Vin Diesel. He also described how they used to practise together.

Noke announced his retirement from the sport in 2016. He was employed by Irwin as part of his personal security after Irwin became captivated by the sport of MMA and wanted someone to train with.

Noke trained with Irwin every morning in an MMA cage Irwin had constructed at the zoo, and sometimes things got rough.

Prior to UFC 284 in Perth’s RAC Arena on Saturday, Noke told reporters: “When he first started to learn, he didn’t quite understand it. He was like, ‘What happens if I just come charging at you though? If I just throw haymakers at you, are you still going to be able to get out of the way?”

“So I said, ‘Well, you just come at me and I will see if I can strike you’, so he just came charging at me with haymakers.”

In order to defend himself from Irwin, Noke was compelled to use his skills.

The UFC veteran said, “I was able to jab him and then put a right hand on him, which dropped him to a knee. Then he got up and charged at me again and, after the second time I dropped him, he’s like, ‘Maybe we just stick to training the technical stuff’.”

Irwin and Noke became close friends. Noke said that Irwin had substantial fighting skills, especially in wrestling.

He said, “Steve loved training. Before he would do an interview, he would get me to punch him in the guts a few times because he didn’t want to talk to anyone, so that would get him hyped up for it.”

“Then sometimes he would just come charging at me and ask me to knock him out a few times. The man was an animal, he loved fighting.”

In 2019, Noke said that Irwin wanted to leave his TV job in order to fight Vin Diesel in a charity bout because he was so fascinated by the growing combat sport.

Noke said on the Grange TV Podcast, “He was willing to throw his whole career away just to have a fight and then we came up with the idea of having a charity fight – which still wasn’t okay with his producers at all. They still didn’t want it.”

“But I remember he made me go to the movies once … He said, ‘We’re going to watch a movie, it’s the Pacifier with Vin Diesel’. That’s a kids movie. He said, ‘Yeah, I wanna fight him though so I wanna size him up and see what he looks like.”

“So we went to watch The Pacifier – one of the worst movies I ever saw – but the whole idea was to size Vin Diesel up for a fight. He originally wanted to fight Wesley Snipes, but then he found out Wesley Snipes was small so after that it was Vin Diesel, let’s go.”