Joe Lauzon: ‘Once the fight hits the ground, it’s over’
A couple weeks before his scheduled UFC 183 main card bout this Saturday, Joe Lauzon sat in a box at the Boston Garden, watching other Massachusetts fighters like Charles Rosa, John Howard, and Tateki Matsuda duke it out in the Octagon. Part of him wished he was down there fighting near his home town as well, but part of Lauzon - who fought and lost in Boston back in Aug. 2013 to Michael Johnson - was also glad that he was just a spectator and will fight in Las Vegas this weekend.
"A little bit of both," he tells FOX Sports.
"It would have been nice to fight in Boston but it’s also nice to step away from the fact, sit in a box super high up and have our own bathroom, and TV where we could watch the football game. The bathroom was a huge deal because when I’m at UFC events and in seats, it’s impossible for me to get back to my seat if I go to the bathroom. I’ll get out and there will be a line of a hundred people for autographs and photos, so I’m always sitting in my seat, trying to hold it so I don’t have to miss the rest of the fights," he laughs.
Additionally, Joe didn’t have to deal with all the extra requests and responsibilities that come with fighting in one’s home town As a new father, to son Joey, he and his fiancee Katie have still had more than their share of extra responsibilities, of late.
Baby Joey has fought hard through cancer and complications that initially made his father think he’d never again have the time to resume his fight career. Joey has beaten back the cancer and is in good health these days, but his parents plan to get married this spring so there’s a whole new set of joyous preparations on the to-do list.
With so much going on in his life other than fighting in the UFC, we ask "JLau" what role his daily training plays for him. Is it hard to get in, distracting, or a good release and escape for him?
"Training is really important," he maintains.
"Everything changed with little Joey. He became the number one priority. If Katie can’t be there, I have to be there. But we’ve been really lucky because we get a lot of help. Our moms take Joey a bunch, and we have a girl who is kind of like a nanny a couple days a week and she’s been huge for training.
I also believe that I’ve fought better guys, better competition. I’ve also just gone through all those jitters way more times
"It’s definitely weird, though, because training used to be the most important thing in my life, and everything else revolved around that. If I had plans with Katie but had to change them because of training, I would, and she was great and supportive with that. But if Joey has something really important, I can’t just not take care of it because of training. I like being busy, though. I think it’s good. I’m kind of a procrastinator sometimes but because I’m so busy, I’m more proactive now. If I have twenty straight minutes, I’m going to use it to get something done."
A lot else has changed for Lauzon since he made his UFC debut back in 2006 against former world champion Jens Pulver. At the time, Lauzon was just months removed from college, and he had a full-time day job in IT.
Though he seized the opportunity with both hands, and has gone on to create a record-breaking career in the UFC in the past eight and a half years, Joe initially didn’t have any real goals for himself in MMA. "In the beginning, I didn’t have goals," he admits.
"I didn’t realize how big a deal it was. I wanted to not get beat up and do well. I was such an underdog, and I was fighting a world champion, a huge step up in competition, so my goal was to not get embarrassed. But if I would have lost, I would have been upset, but it wouldn’t have been the biggest deal in the world."
Of course, Lauzon far from embarrassed himself, and stopped Pulver in the first round. Since then, he’s become the most exciting fighter in the UFC, earning a record thirteen performance of the night bonuses, one more than UFC 183 headliner Anderson Silva.
Lauzon believes that all that Octagon experience gives him distinct advantages over his opponent Saturday night, Al Iaquinta. The Matt Serra and Ray Longo trained New Yorker is as good a young lightweight prospect in the UFC, with wrestling skill and striking power.
That said, Lauzon says people shouldn’t count out his own striking ability, and warns that his savvy and submission abilities will be a danger to Iaquinta. "I have a lot of advantages," he says.
"I have much better Jiu Jitsu. Once the fight hits the ground, it’s pretty much going to be over. I have a huge experience advantage over him. I’ve been fighting in the UFC long before he was even thinking of fighting. I’ve had eighteen fights in the UFC and he hasn’t had that many MMA fights, overall.
"I also believe that I’ve fought better guys, better competition. I’ve also just gone through all those jitters way more times. I think I have the advantage that at my gym, I’m the priority. Al being there with [UFC middleweight champ Chris] Weidman, I have to think that Weidman gets the ‘A’ team and that Al gets the second team for his training."
Of course, Lauzon believes that his opponent is dangerous, despite all that. He insists that he hasn’t overlooked him during training camp, but wonders if Iaquinta has done that with him.
"I think Al is super tough. We definitely haven’t slept on him at all," Joe promises.
"That’s the main issue. From Al’s perspective, I bet he thinks he has a big advantage on the feet, and an aggression advantage. I think that’s a mistake for him to bank on that."
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