Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight veterans Donald Cerrone and Joe Lauzon will throw down this weekend (Sat., May 7, 2022) at UFC 274 inside Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona.
This right here is good matchmaking. Even Cerrone and Lauzon themselves would likely agree that their best days are behind them, as they’ve openly discussed retirement. More important, each man is losing far more often than winning at this stage of the game. Rather than pair one of the veterans with some hungry young prospect and hope to build a new name, UFC has done the duo a solid by matching them up versus members of their own generation. One man wins, one loses, and hopefully both walk away satisfied with their excellent professional careers.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Record: 36-16 (2)
Key Wins: Eddie Alvarez (UFC 178), Benson Henderson (UFC Fight Night 59), Al Iaquinta (UFC Fight Night 151), Alexander Hernandez (UFC Fight Night 143), Yancy Medeiros (UFC Fight Night 126), Rick Story (UFC 202)
Key Losses: Conor McGregor (UFC 246), Tony Ferguson (UFC 238), Justin Gaethje (UFC Fight Night 158), Jorge Masvidal (UFC on FOX 23), Leon Edwards (UFC Fight Night 132), Rafael dos Anjos (UFC on FOX 17, UFC Fight Night 27)
Keys to Victory: Cerrone made his name by fighting anyone, anywhere, carving up generations of contenders with his combination of Muay Thai and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. All that activity has caught up to him physically, but his skills remain fairly sharp.
Whether this fight happened five years ago or this weekend, Cerrone’s advantages lie in the stand up and over time. Cerrone is the sharper kickboxer, particularly at distance. He’ll have to be wary of Lauzon’s early power, but those heavy hands can be navigated by maintaining kicking range as much as possible.
Early power is the other key term here. Between the two, Cerrone historically has the better gas tank, and that’s remained true in their late careers as well. If Cerrone can stretch this fight out into the later rounds, his kicks will wear down Lauzon a bit and take some of the pop off Lauzon’s swings.
If Cerrone can kick his opponent at a good rate and avoid anything devastating early, he stands a good chance at retiring on a win.
Key Wins: Jonathan Pierce (UFC on ESPN 6), Diego Sanchez (UFC 200), Michael Chiesa (UFC Fight Night 50), Jamie Varner (UFC on FOX 4), Melvin Guillard (UFC 136)
Key Losses: Jim Miller (UFC on FOX 21, UFC 155), Clay Guida (UFC Fight Night 120), Evan Dunham (The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale), Al Iaquinta (UFC 183)
Keys to Victory: Lauzon is a finisher. Like his opponent, Lauzon ranks highly on the list of most performance bonuses of all time, in large part because Lauzon doesn’t know how to hold back. He goes after his opponents, throwing big shots and taking risks to jump on submissions.
I think an early onslaught might be Lauzon’s best chance here. He’s proven that he still carries real power in his hands, and if able to gain a dominant position, he’s a deadly finisher. Even at his peak, Cerrone was never particularly difficult to hit. Nowadays, Cerrone doesn’t have the same durability that allowed him to thrive despite that flaw. He’s far more vulnerable, and Lauzon has an early window where he can really drop the hurt.
Cerrone is a famously slow starter, whereas Lauzon has always been on to explode out of the gate. Stylistically, it makes a whole lot of sense for Lauzon to try to end this one quickly, before Cerrone can find his rhythm and range.
The legacy of each man is already set in stone, so this fight doesn’t mean all that much.
Is there much more to say here? Lauzon is The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) veteran who put on hugely entertaining fights for the better part of two decades. Cerrone, meanwhile, never managed to capture the title, but he challenged for it on a couple occasions. Equally as important, Cerrone built one hell of a resume by fighting as often as possible and picking up some elite wins in the process.
Regardless of Saturday night’s outcome, these two have accomplished more than enough to be remembered fondly.
At UFC 274, Donald Cerrone and Joe Lauzon will open the main card. Which man will earn the victory?
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 274 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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