[Interview] Lightweight Joe Lauzon Prepared to be More Stubborn than Jim Miller at UFC 155
A jiu-jitsu flow chart flashes in Joe Lauzon’s brain. The 28-year-old Massachusetts native simply tries to follow it to victory.
That explains the lightweight’s seven of nine octagon wins via submission. The other two were technical knockouts, making him a 100% finisher. Of his four UFC losses, three have been finishes too. When The Ultimate Fighter season five alumni squares off against Jim Miller, who stepped in to replace an injured Gray Maynard, on UFC 155’s main card at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. Saturday night, it’s likely the final bell is planning vacation.
“Gray usually fights a little safer,” Lauzon told thewellversed.com. “He has great wrestling, pretty good jiu-jitsu. With Jim, I don’t think his wrestling is as strong. I think his jiu-jitsu is a lot better. It’s less a match where you’re trying to control a guy and more going for submissions, scrambles and just pure excitement.”
Excitement is a word prominent in Lauzon’s vocabulary. Being from the East Coast like New Jersey’s Miller, he expects 15-hard-fought minutes where they’ll be getting “very familiar with each other, beating each other up in the face.”
That frank pre-fight assessment Lauzon typically cashes in on, leading him to 11 octagon award bonuses in. Lauzon boasts two more awards than he has wins. He’s second all-time only behind the greatest fighter in UFC history, middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
With all the performance bonuses under his belt, Lauzon reflects the six years he’s had in the UFC have been more than he could imagine. Being a full-time fighter and gym owner is a far cry from when he came into the octagon barely old enough to drink and upset former UFC lightweight champion Jens Pulver.
“When I first fought in the UFC, I fought Pulver and I went back to work on Monday,” said Lauzon. “I fought on the [TUF] finale, I went back to work on Monday. I kept doing both things kind of parallel, then B.J. [Penn] kept putting on his website, kept putting out blogs: ‘Lauzon, come to Hawaii, book a flight!’”
That’s what Lauzon did, never looking back. Six years later, he finds it hard to believe everything that’s come with being a UFC fighter: the money, the job description and the tours to meet U.S. troops in Iraq to name a few. Perhaps the most unbelievable part is the generation that’s followed along with him. Younger brother Dan Lauzon came into the UFC next and teammates Chuck O’Neil and Joe Proctor entered the same way as Lauzon via The Ultimate Fighter reality TV fight tournament.
“It’s all four of us, we never wrestled,” said Lauzon. “We never done boxing. We never had anything. We all came in and started jiu-jitsu at my gym. That was kind of it. This little tiny gym in Bridgewater has produced so many guys that have made it to that level is pretty incredible. When I sit back and I look at that kind of stuff, it really blows me away.
“We’re all super competitive. We’re jerks. Proctor has a fight? There’s no shortage of guys lining up to beat him up. If I got to fight, there’s no shortage of guys. We’re all really jerks and Massholes together. It works for the fight.”
It’s definitely a long way for a gym that began with a blue belt lead instructor. Lauzon’s MMA evolution includes an upgrade to a new Easton, Mass. location. That’s the only plan he has post-Miller: to continue to tend to the facility that bears his family name. Beyond that plane ticket to Hawaii and the vague notion of making it, Lauzon doesn’t make plans. MMA is “too unpredictable.” It’s about accepting the chips falling where they may.
Coming off a Submission and Fight of the Night combo worth $100,000 versus former WEC 155-pound champ Jamie Varner in August felt like a way to right the first KO loss of his career to Anthony Pettis in February. A 1-1 2012 going into UFC 155 allows Lauzon the opportunity to define his year for better or worse against Miller. Betting on whether or not he’ll be on the right side of .500 for 2012 isn’t a sure thing like wagering on the excitement UFC 155’s Lauzon-Miller clash promises.
With 15 award bonuses between him and his opponent, a scrappy prizefight is ahead.
“The Miller bros. are super tough but everyone has a breaking point,” said Lauzon. “You just got to find it. You gotta figure out what’s going to get him there. It definitely gives me a little confidence seeing what Nate [Diaz] did to him, but I’m sure he’s confident seeing when Pettis kicked me in the face.”
Miller is coming off the first finish defeat of his 25-fight, seven-year career—May’s second-round guillotine loss to Diaz in UFC on FOX 3 main event. All four men to hold a win versus Miller have fought for the UFC belt (Frankie Edgar, Gray Maynard, Benson Henderson and Diaz) and two (Edgar and Henderson) have held it. Lauzon understands his ability to get up for the “biggest card of the year” will be met with equal energy from Miller. This is a fight that boils down to pressure between two fighters that don’t like to go anywhere but forward.
If Lauzon’s going to break through, a tough-as-nails Miller is a solid way to do it.
“We’re both gonna come out, whoever is more stubborn, whoever is harder-headed is probably going to push the other back,” said Lauzon. “Whoever makes the first mistake is probably going to pay for it.”