Joe Lauzon on Jamie Varner: “Sometimes he Comes Out Like a Ball of Fire And Sometimes Not so Much”
By Kelsey Mowatt
When Joe Lauzon set out to begin his 2012 campaign the lightweight had positioned himself within striking distance of the top of the division, thanks to a memorable win over contender Melvin Guillard last October. Unfortunately for Lauzon, he came up short against Anthony Pettis in February, as the former WEC champ caught the 28 year-old-fighter with a head kick for an early stoppage win. Despite the setback, however, the resilient Lauzon is only looking forward.
“I’m obviously upset about it but I’m not going to hang onto it and just let it burn me,” Lauzon told Full Contact Fighter. “I’m going to move on from it, learn from it and everything else. It was definitely hard fighting in Japan but Anthony had to do the same thing, so, I’m not going to make excuses. Things were different.”
The UFC 144 bout took place in Japan at the nation’s storied Saitama Super Arena, which has been home to numerous MMA events including cards from PRIDE.
“It was the first time I had ever fought over there, so we learned a lot about going over there and the time differences, sleeping all that kind of stuff,” Lauzon furthered. “We kind of thought we had a good plan going over there but it just didn’t work out. I’m not beating myself up about it…It’s a shot I definitely don’t think I should have been caught with but I did. So I have to pick up the pieces and move on.”
Lauzon ‘s first step on the comeback trail was originally scheduled to take place against Terry Etim at UFC on FOX 4 on August 4th. After an injury forced the British fighter to withdraw, however, it was announced that Lauzon would face yet another former WEC champ in Jamie Varner.
“I was happy about the fight,” said Lauzon (21-7). “It’s always tough when an opponent gets changed especially as it gets closer to the fight, it gets worse and worse. I was training for Terry Etim, who is really tall, throws a lot of kicks and is kind of herky-jerky with his footwork, not your typical fighter by any stretch…so right off the bat you’re kind of like ‘oh crap, everything we just did for Terry Etim just went out the window.”
Although Varner (20-6) has had his well documented struggles, which included a four fight winless streak that led to his WEC release, the accomplished vet has turned things around. After winning back-to-back fights for Xtreme Fighting Championship, Varner stepped in as a late replacement at UFC 146 and became the first man to defeat rising lightweight Edson Barboza.
“In the end, I’m glad it’s Jamie Varner,” noted Lauzon. “He’s a good name, big name, who is coming off a huge win. He’s definitely got more of a cookie cutter style. Good boxing, good wrestling, but nothing out of the box that you have to plan for….Going to a style that I’m more used to and is more common, is a pretty good thing.”
In addition to their differences stylistically, as Lauzon cited, the 5’8 tall Varner is much shorter than the 6’1 tall Etim.
“With Terry I would have had to deal with a huge difference in reach,” said Lauzon. “Terry’s much, much taller than me and I think I actually have a bit of a reach advantage on Jamie now. I think that Jamie’s hands are better than Terry’s, but with Terry, not only is he long but he likes to kick a lot too.”
Although Lauzon credited Varner’s wrestling abilities, the former TUF competitor believes his submission skills could be the deciding factor in the upcoming bout.
“I’ve worked really hard on my boxing but I’m always going to be more comfortable on the ground. That’s just the way it is,” said Lauzon, who of his eight Octagon wins has recorded six by submission. “Am I confident that I can catch him in a submission? Yes. I think Jamie is very hot and cold. Sometimes he comes out like a ball of fire and sometimes not so much.”