Fight fans: when did you first see Joe Lauzon?
Chances are, you remember it.
Chances are, it was in a heck of a battle.
My first look at Lauzon was UFC 63 in September of 2006. That night, a 22 year old Lauzon entered the Octagon for the first time in his MMA career, as an opponent for returning Jens Pulver. Lauzon was a recent college graduate, working in the tech field, and wasn’t being taken too seriously as a fighter. As Alim Lila recalled earlier this week here at Caged Insider, “…everyone knew that the young Lauzon was going to get slaughtered by the former UFC champion…”
But 48 seconds later, Pulver was knocked senseless in what was supposed to be his showcase bout, courtesy of a pair of viscous left hooks from Lauzon. The young IT guy from New England had scored one of the biggest upsets in UFC history.
Lauzon went on to appear on the fifth season of The Ultimate Fighter, which saw Lauzon coached by BJ Penn, opposite a team coached by Jens Pulver.
Penn later admitted he planned to pass Lauzon up in the process of picking fighters, but changed his mind after seeing him train.
“When I first heard Joe Lauzon was going to be on the show, I was like, perfect. I’m not going to pick him. I’m going to give him to Pulver. I want to see what Pulver can teach a guy who just knocked him out in a minute. But watching him train, there’s something I like about the guy. I could see a fire in him.”
That fire helped Lauzon score stoppage victories over Brian Geraghty and Cole Miller as the season progressed, before losing a decision to Manvel Gamburyan in the semifinals.
Penn described what separated Lauzon the cast: “All the other ones, they’ve got something about them. They’ll give 100%, but there’s still a little ego to them. Everyone except Joe.”
Unlike many of his TUF 5 castmates (who have since fallen by the wayside), Lauzon kept improving. At the finale, Lauzon won “Submission of the Night” in securing a triangle choke on Rob Emerson.
Lauzon’s torrid, all-action style and excellent all-around skills have netted him a record twelve post-fight bonuses, a UFC record which he shares with Anderson Silva.
His last “Fight Of The Night” was many fans’ 2012 “Fight of the Year.” He and Dan Miller went back and forth in a grueling, bloody, three round “slug-fest” of a battle.
Lauzon, who described a slow return to training after the brawl with Miller, was typically upbeat about the experience in an interview with MMA Junkie in March.
“I always said I’d rather lose a good fight than win a super-boring one.”
Another fight, and another heck of a battle. It was probably the first Joe Lauzon fight for many fans. They won’t forget it.
Unfortunately, he lost that bout, and his next.It’s been a long seven year UFC career, with a lot of punishment taken along the way. With all these great fights under his belt, it’s hard to believe he’s still five months shy of his 30th birthday.
What is the last time we’ll see Joe Lauzon? He has now won two of his last five. Could it be this Saturday, when he faces Mac Danzig at UFC on Fox 9 in Sacramento, for his 16th official appearance?
Maybe, maybe not.
Of course, his time will come, eventually. It does for every fighter.
But as much as he seems to love this game, putting his heart and soul into every fight — it may be a heck of a battle to convince him.