Well before the UFC offered bonuses for social media efforts, Joe Lauzon was one of the earliest adopters of technology as a tool of direct communication with his fans. He posts on a popular MMA message board, chats on Twitter, regularly uploads vlogs on his YouTube channel and is active on Facebook.
His approach should come as no surprise given his background; the popular lightweight earned a computer science degree. But for Lauzon, it wasn't an extension of his alter ego away from the cage; in fact, it began as something fun to do.
The change began after his first foray in the Octagon, a knockout upset of former champion Jens Pulver. Given Lauzon's age — just 22 at the time — and underdog status, the fight was instantly memorable, but when it was over, he realized he didn't have much to remember it by. He had few photos, no video. Soon afterward, a decision was made to document his career.
Shot by longtime friend Brandon Chase, Lauzon’s vlogs offer a behind-the-scenes look at the life of one of the UFC's most exciting fighters. Prior to Lauzon's Aug. 17 UFC Fight Night bout against Michael Johnson, FOX Sports will exclusively host new episodes.
"Most of the time, the fans really enjoy the video," he said. "It's always super relaxed in the videos because it's my good friend Brandon filming everything, so we don't have this unfamiliar camera crew following us. It's just us and you are getting a much more genuine look into everything."
The videos are shot on professional equipment and usually pared down to about 15 minutes or less.
In the past, Lauzon has taken fans to Japan, to behind-the-scenes fighters meetings, to pre-fight meetings between opponents. He also hasn't shied away from showing the more private sides of the fight game, like pre-fight strategy, or the somber sides.
"I think all of the post-fight stuff is the best," he said. "It's the most realistic look into what's going on after a fight. We have a few different times where I was getting stitches and I am either super happy because we won or feeling low that we lost, but it's a realistic look into what's going on."
Fighting in his backyard in Boston, Lauzon faces the pressures of fulfilling the expectations of the hometown crowd, rebounding from a loss and living up to his exciting reputation. All the while, he’ll continue his efforts at setting the bar for athletes connecting with fans.
“They can expect to get a much deeper sense of involvement than they have ever seen before,” he said. “This is better than any countdown show and you will really feel like you are hanging out with us.”