Following his slick armbar submission victory over Jeremy Stephens at “Ultimate Fight Night 17,” things were looking up for “J-Lau,” who had defeated his last two opponents and was on a small win-streak after losing his first UFC fight to Kenny Florian in April 2008.
However, Lauzon ran into problems with his knee, and the necessity for surgery overruled the necessity to step into a cage and fight. The surgery kept Lauzon out of action for some time, and doctor’s said he may not fight until several months into 2010.
A speedy recovery has changed that timetable, as Lauzon is finally ready to make his return to the Octagon this Saturday (Jan. 2) at UFC 108: “Evans vs. Silva.”
Lauzon and his 5-1 record with the UFC will be greeted by Sam “Hands of Stone” Stout at the MGM Grand this weekend, as Stout looks to build on his one fight win-streak by ending Joe’s.
However, “Baby Joe” has other plans for the evening, bringing his solid stand up and superior ground game into the cage. Lauzon feels that while on the feet Stout may have a slight advantage, on the ground he will find no success. With a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, time spent training with current UFC lightweight BJ Penn, and 14 wins coming by way of submission, we’ll take Joe’s word for it.
Lauzon will meet Stout as a part of the evening’s main card, and even though Stout has gone to a decision in five of his last six fights, Lauzon feels that when the fight hits the ground he could finish “Hands of Stone” off early.
UFC 108 may prove to be just the return “J-Lau” is looking for. Before the surgery, Lauzon was a serious prospect in the UFC 155-pound division. When he took time away from the cage to focus on his knee problems, he may have been lost in the division rankings.
Lauzon plans to make an example of Sam Stout as a reminder of where he belongs in the lightweight division. He knows he is not at the top, but a few more victories could certainly put him in the mix, along with giving him the opportunity he longs for; a rematch with Kenny Florian.
Continue reading to find out who Lauzon thinks can beat BJ Penn, what it’s like for “J-Lau” to fight on the same card as his brother, and his opinion on UFC 108, the most “cursed” card in UFC history.
Nate Lawson (MMAMania.com): You’re scheduled to face Sam Stout this Saturday at UFC 108. Could you break down the fight, where you think you will be able to expose Stout?
Joe Lauzon: I mean, I don’t know if it’s gonna be so much exposing him. I definitely have the advantage on the ground. I think he’s gonna have a slight advantage on the feet. I think I’ll have a pretty good advantage on the ground, though, so I’m definitely looking to get the fight there.
Nate Lawson (MMAMania.com): Stout is a pretty tough guy to finish with most of his fights going to a decision. Do you see this fight going to a decision, or do you think you will be able to get him down and finish the fight?
Joe Lauzon: I definitely think if and when the fight hits the ground, I think I’ll do a good job with working some ground and pound. Using elbows, using punches. You know, improve my position. I don’t know if it will end there, or if I’ll use a submission to end it, or what, but I’m confident when it hits the ground.
Nate Lawson (MMAMania.com): Well you are obviously comfortable with your ground game. You finish a lot of fights via submission, including the arm bar against Jeremy Stephens most recently. Could you explain what level you think your submission game is at compared to the rest of the lightweight division?
Joe Lauzon: I don’t know. Everyone’s so different. It depends on what’s going on. It’s tough to, you know, compare. In grappling, I’m one of the better grapplers in the division, but it’s so tough to compare. You got guys like BJ (Penn) in the division, all the way to the opposite end; guys that have a lot of striking and no real ground game. I’d say I’m somewhere closer toward the top, but definitely closer to the middle.
Nate Lawson (MMAMania.com): Right now, BJ Penn is coming off the complete domination over Diego Sanchez. Do you think he is unbeatable at 155?
Joe Lauzon: I think he’s unbeatable at 155. I think a motivated BJ is going to be tough for anyone. But who knows? Anyone can get caught. We have upsets all the time, but I don’t see anyone beating BJ for a while.
Nate Lawson (MMAMania.com): Do you think he should make the move back up to welterweight now that he is motivated, sticking to training, and working so hard?
Joe Lauzon: I think that he’s really gonna make more of a name at ’55. I think he’s just a natural lightweight, but he’s one of the few guys that can do that. He can go from’55 and go up to 170 and do well and everything else. I’m looking forward to whatever he does.
Nate Lawson (MMAMania.com): Also on the card for UFC 108 is your brother, Dan Lauzon, who is fighting Cole Miller. What is it like fighting on the same card as your brother?
Joe Lauzon: Well, you know, it’s awesome. We fought on one other card, a small local show back home. And it’s cool. I definitely get way more nervous for his fights than my own, so it’ll be a little bit different not having to focus 100 percent on me, but on Danny’s fight a little bit, too. We’re both looking forward to it. It’ll be a good night.
Nate Lawson (MMAMania.com): How excited is he for this fight after the whole fallout with Affliction: “Trilogy” and everything?
Joe Lauzon: He’s glad to be back in the UFC, back in the big show. It’s awesome, you know? Affliction was trying hard to keep up, but the UFC was ultimately just too big, too much money, too much everything. So he’s pumped to be back in the big show.
Nate Lawson (MMAMania.com): In the UFC you’ve been completely dominant, except for one fight against Kenny Florian where some illegal elbows could have very well been the factor in that one. Could you describe how badly you would like to get back into the octagon against Kenny?
Joe Lauzon: That’s a fight I’m looking forward to the most. Whether I get the opportunity or not, I’m not really sure. But it’s definitely a fight I’m looking forward to and hopefully I get it in the near future.
Nate Lawson (MMAMania.com): What about a dominant victory over Stout? Do you see that putting you into the mix against Florian, or is there someone else you would expect to fight?
Joe Lauzon: I don’t think beating Sam alone is gonna get me another shot at Kenny, but hopefully another fight will get me closer. And that’s the goal, to get another fight with Kenny.
Nate Lawson (MMAMania.com): You are coming off of surgery for your knee. Could you explain how all that is going? Are you good to go?
Joe Lauzon: Yeah. You know, my knee’s good. It feels 100 percent. I’m amazed at how much better … how far along it’s come in such a short amount of time. But yeah, I’m not worried about my knee at all.
Nate Lawson (MMAMania.com): On the topic of injury, obviously UFC 108 has seemed somewhat “cursed”. What are your thoughts on the card overall because a lot of people are saying that it is not living up to expectations?
Joe Lauzon: I still think it’s a good card. Some people are complaining a little bit, but I think for the most part, people understand it’s going to be a good card. The UFC always puts on good cards. Even if a card doesn’t have a bunch of real, real big names, it’s still always good fights. So I’m not worried about it at all and I still think it’s going to be a great show.
Joe Lauzon would like you to follow him at Twitter.com/joelauzon. He would also like to thank all his sponsors, including TriCoasta, Sprawl Fight Shorts, Fight Dentist, and MMA Warehouse.