Joe Lauzon has been competing as a professional Mixed Martial Artist since he was a teenager, fighting fifteen times before making his infamous UFC debut against legendary lightweight Jens Pulver in 2006. However, despite his experience the 27-year has never been afforded an opportunity to compete in Japan…until now, that is.
Lauzon faces Anthony Pettis later tonight as part of the main card for UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson. The event marks the UFC’s return to Japan after more than ten years away from the Asian nation, and, as mentioned, Lauzon’s first in the Far East.
“I’ve always wanted to fight in Japan,” began Lauzon in a conversation with the UFC’s website promoting his bout with Pettis. “Before MMA was real big here, Japan was always the place to go. It’s turned around now, but before, when the UFC was just getting going and gaining all that momentum, Japan was the place to fight, so it’s pretty cool to go back there and be part of such a big card.”
“The quiet fans are going to be a trip. I always hear my corner very clear and I’m very accustomed to their voices, so I can pick them up, but listening to the other corner and all that kinda stuff is all gonna be pretty cool. I think we’ll hear Joe (Rogan) and ‘Goldie’ (Mike Goldberg), and I’m looking forward to all of that,” Lauzon continued before referring to famed MMA promotion PRIDE as a core reason he fell in love with the sport. “I started training before I started watching the UFC, and honestly, I think I watched a little bit more PRIDE in the very beginning than I did the UFC. There were the entrances with the drums and there were so many people there and the whole entire thing is just a surreal experience.”
Not only is “J-Lau” eager to fight in Japan but he’s pumped to have been paired with an opponent the caliber of Pettis. A former WEC champion, Pettis has won five of his last six bouts and brings a polished attack into the cage featuring slick striking, underrated BJJ, and unique athleticism.
“I think Pettis is good everywhere,” Lauzon said, praising Pettis. “Everyone knows him as the kid that jumped off the cage, and he’s obviously got good kickboxing, but he’s good on the ground too. I think people forget that part about him.”
Lauzon also made sure to point out he’s a bit better in the stand-up department than he gets credit for.
“Also, I don’t think he’s got a clear-cut advantage on the feet, like a lot of people are thinking. Everyone looks at me as ‘Oh, he’s got so many submissions,’ and this and that, but I think people forget that I’ve been hurting people with my punches and that’s been setting up my submissions. The last couple fights, I smashed guys on the feet, and then I took a submission once it hit the ground. So I don’t see it as this clear-cut striker vs. grappler match that a lot of people are seeing. I favor the ground over stand-up and I think Pettis favors stand-up over ground, but I think we’re both pretty even in a lot of areas, and I’m expecting a tough fight and an exciting fight. Most likely, the fight’s gonna end somewhere absolutely crazy, so I’m excited.”
The two talented 155ers will mix it up on the PPV portion of UFC 144. Preliminary bouts begin at 7:30 PM EST on Facebook/FX with the featured fights starting at 10:00 PM EST.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC