Joe Lauzon: “They Kept Throwing Tough Guys At Me. I Just Keep Knocking Them Down”
By Kelsey Mowatt
After Joe Lauzon ended Melvin Guillard’s five fight win streak at UFC 136 in October, by tapping out the lightweight contender in just 47 seconds with a rear-naked-choke, the TUF vet relayed to FCF that he was hoping to fight “another top guy” next. Of course, Lauzon got his wish, as the 27 year-old-fighter will take on former WEC champ Anthony Pettis, February 25.
“It’s just another case of someone calling me out,” said Lauzon (21-6), while discussing the back story to his upcoming UFC 144 bout with Pettis (14-2), who is coming off a split decision win over Jeremy Stephens in October. “I’m completely fine with it. They were talking about Anthony fighting for the title, he kind of dropped down a notch when he lost to Clay (Guida), but he’s a tough guy and those are the guys I want to fight. Tough, really good guys that people talk about being top five…I’m excited. With every win against a guy like that you get closer to a title shot and that’s what everyone wants.”
As many will tell you, lots can change in the span of a year, and after scoring wins over Curt Warburton and the aforementioned Guillard in 2011, Lauzon could be just a win over Pettis away from moving into the upper tier of the division.
“If I hadn’t lost to (George) Sotiropoulos I would have thought it was perfect timing,” Lauzon noted. “With the loss to Sam Stout I kind of rushed back from ACL surgery, all that kind of stuff, but I really didn’t think that was held against me that much. After the loss to George, I felt like it really knocked me down, but they kept throwing tough guys at me. I just keep knocking them down. With Pettis they did the same thing, but I just want to knock him down a peg and keep moving forward.”
Much like Guillard, Pettis is also a feared striker, who also has provided MMA fans with several highlight reel stoppages and moments. Although Lauzon is quick to credit Pettis for his stand-up skills, the Massachusetts’s fighter believes the comparisons between his next opponent and Guillard end there.
“Anthony is way too good off of his back to be known as just a striker,” Lauzon said. “He has really slick jiu-jitsu. He put Clay in several triangles, and he got saved by the bell, so I definitely don’t think it’s your classic striker versus grappler match-up at all. I think that the main reason people think of Anthony as a striker is because of that ‘Showtime’ kick he pulled off the cage…He’s always going to be known for that kick. He is a really good striker but he’s also really good off his back.”
“I think they’re different,” Lauzon added while comparing Pettis and Guillard. “I think Melvin is very good at getting back up to his feet, using the fence and all that kind of stuff. I think it’s a little bit easier to get Anthony to the ground, but he’s much more comfortable there. Melvin is trying to get up because his life is dependent on him getting up, while Anthony might look for armbars, triangles, and all kind of submissions. He’s not a fish out of water like Melvin is there I think.”
Aside from what fighting Pettis presents Lauzon, in terms of rankings and future opportunities, the bout will also mark the lightweight’s debut fighting in Japan.
“Japan is one of those things that I’ve always wanted to do; I’ve always wanted to go there,” said Lauzon, who will battle Pettis at the nation’s Saitama Super Arena. “I would have preferred to go there once before I was fighting there though. It’s great to go there, and to be fighting there, but I just don’t know about the food situation, the jet lag…there’s a lot of unique aspects to this fight but I’m excited for it.”
“It’s going to be way different,” Lauzon furthered. “I remember watching Pride, and you have this arena with 40,000, 50,000 people and they’re silent, they’re in awe…I think they’re really knowledgeable about jiu-jitsu and super respectful. It’s going to be amazing.”
Photo courtesy Lauzon MMA