UFC’s Joe Lauzon Talks Closed Guard, Weighs-in on Effectiveness of Position in Today’s MMA
By Kelsey Mowatt
As mixed-martial-artists continue to evolve their skill sets, discussions regarding the effectiveness of the guard and how it should be utilized in the modern era of fighting abound. In other words, the days of fighters jumping to their full guard seem to be disappearing. Even world class jiu-jitsu practitioners have been seen struggling from the position.
Of course, one man who knows more than his fair share about jiu-jitsu and grappling is Joe Lauzon, who has won six “Submission of the Night” honors to date in the UFC. While appearing on a recent episode of Full Contact Fighter Radio, here is what the lightweight had to say when asked to weigh-in on the subject.
“I think just in general, the full guard is pretty outdated for MMA,” said Lauzon, who is scheduled to fight another talented grappler in Michael Chiesa on September 5th. “I think the days are gone where if someone is in your guard, and you hang on, they give you an armlock, or they reach in your guard and they get triangled. That just doesn’t happen as often anymore.”
“So I definitely feel like the closed guard is pretty outdated for MMA and guys are just better athletes,” furthered Lauzon. “They’re so much better; they’re so much more versatile. You know it used to be that having a black belt in jiu-jitsu meant that you’re definitely the better ground guy. Now, today, if you’re a black belt in jiu-jitsu, I’ve submitted black belts in jiu-jitsu. It’s not the feather in your cap that it used to be.”
One of the key reasons for that, of course, is that the fighters of today are more educated about grappling than ever before. Ten years ago, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt was a rare find; even a brown belt would stand out on a UFC card. Today, it’s not all that uncommon to see two BJJ black belts fighting each other. Some fighters have attained world class ground skills by training outside the formal jiu-jitsu system altogether.
“Guys are getting better and it’s generally easier to posture up and throw punches, then it is to set up these elaborate, really cool looking submissions…” furthered Lauzon, who has a brown belt in BJJ. “So it’s definitely changed quite a bit over, I don’t know, what? The last 20 years in the UFC.”
“Now it’s like people go ‘oh, his jiu-jitsu sucks; he’s a blue belt.’ It’s just completely different.” added Lauzon. “And it’s great. I love jiu-jitsu. Fighting is great but I love jiu-jitsu. I think jiu-jitsu is the best. I really enjoy jiu-jitsu. Long after I’m done fighting I’ll always be doing jiu-jitsu. You’ll never keep me off the mat. I just think it’s a lot of fun.”
Not only are there more experienced and talented grapplers than ever before, but there are more ways to educate oneself about ground fighting. Long gone are the days where new techniques could only be accessed through the occasional seminar, a VHS tape or magazine.
“We’re exposed to so much more…” noted Lauzon. “You were limited by geography so much, about what you were exposed to, now if some guys doing something in California today, and you’re watching it ten, fifteen minutes later on YouTube. It’s amazing how fast information can travel now.”
Lauzon’s UFC FN 50 bout with Chiesa will go down at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard, Connecticut. Stay tuned to Full Contact Fighter for another article featuring Lauzon’s thoughts on his upcoming bout.