Joe Lauzon, winner of 12 UFC bonuses- including two Fight of the Night performances that were later named Fight of the Year- will take on Michael Johnson on the UFC’s debut event for the new sports television network, FOX Sports .
By Christopher Murphy @MurphMMA
Joe Lauzon spoke with BJPenn.com Radio Wednesday night, just days before he will step into the cage opposite Michael Johnson at UFC on FOX Sports 1.
Lauzon, a native of Boston, Massachusetts, will be fighting this Saturday in front of his home crowd at Boston’s TD Garden. The last time Lauzon fought at home was three years ago, when he defeated Gabe Ruediger with a first-round armbar that earned him a Submission of the Night bonus.
For Lauzon, this Saturday is not only an opportunity for him to put on a great fight, it’s a chance to see a number of great fights. On the FOX Sports 1 card are superstar fighters, young and old, as well as a number of up-and-coming fighters with a lot of hype behind them. Two such fighters are preliminary card opponents Connor McGregor and Max Holloway.
“I think [the hype] is well deserved,” Lauzon said of both Holloway and McGregor. “I’ll be glued to the TV watching it.”
Connor McGregor (13-2) has burst onto the scene with an unbelievable 13 wins, 12 by KO/TKO and 1 submission. For Lauzon, McGregor is someone he’s been following for a while now when he heard about the Irish phenom from a friend.
“I’m impressed by Connor McGregor. I have people all the time telling me about how, ‘Oh, so-and-so, you got to see this kid from my gym!’ Then a little over a year ago, I went down to Chicago, and I played paintball, and one of the kids I was playing with, my buddy Carl, was telling me [about] this kid from Ireland: ‘I got this guy that trains at my gym. He’s going to be a beast, he’s going to be the next big thing!’ He’s going off, and it’s like, ‘Yep, I’ve heard this before.’ Then he’s talking about Connor McGregor who storms onto the scene knocking people out left and right, super talented, exciting, has tons of personality.”
Lauzon, whose own career and rise to popularity credit his knowledge on the subject, sees superstardom in McGregor’s future.
“I don’t think Connor McGregor has to be the best fighter; I think he’s a recipe for success, people are going to get behind the kid. He’s exciting, he tries to knock people out, he comes out and fights hard. I’m definitely on that Connor McGregor hype train. I’m impressed by him.”
Of course, McGregor is facing a tough test this Saturday. Hawaiian-native, Max Holloway (7-2), is another young fighter with a lot of hype and potential. Though he lost a controversial split decision to Dennis Bermudez in his last outing, Holloway showed a solid stand-up game that Lauzon believes will make for an exciting fight this weekend.
“Max Holloway- I’m super impressed by him too. Hawaiian guy, super talented. I think the difference is, I think Max Holloway comes out and is more of a speed guy. He hits people, hits people, hits people; while Connor McGregor seems like he’s a little more power-oriented, but also pretty quick. It’s going to be really interesting to see how Holloway and McGregor goes. I think it’s going to be an awesome fight.”
Of course, that fight is only a preliminary fight. The main card features a heavyweight fight between a motivated Alistair Overeem and Travis Browne, a bantamweight fight between Urijah Faber and Iuri Alcantara, and a main event between former UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Chael Sonnen.
On the main event, Lauzon seemed fairly confident in his prediction.
“The main event? I’m liking Chael. The only two people Chael’s lost to- people are giving him a lot of crap because he’s coming off a loss and everything else- the only two people Chael’s lost to in like 4 years [are] Anderson Silva and Jon Jones. They’re both on the pound-for-pound top three or four list for sure. So I’m going to go with Chael over Shogun, you know what I mean? I think that Shogun hasn’t had the best record when it goes to a decision. I think Chael is going to take him down, I don’t think Shogun can really do anything to stop him. It’s going to be a case of, you know, the fight starts on the feet so Shogun is going to try and catch him on the way in, but I think that Chael’s going to get it done.”
Of course, whether or not that happens remains to be seen. What is a certainty, however, is what we can expect from Sonnen immediately after the fight.
“He’s going to have the most amazing, epic post-fight speech ever, which is what I’m really looking forward to,” Lauzon said, only partly joking.
With all these big fights on the card, you have to wonder if Lauzon will be able to keep his streak of bonuses alive amidst the competition. Unless, of course, you’re Joe Lauzon, in which case you’re pretty confident in your odds.
“I feel like I’m going to have a good opportunity to get one of those bonuses. I don’t look at it like I have to beat them out, I look at it like the entire card has to beat me out. I think I have the best record at getting bonuses. I think they are more worried about me getting the bonus than I’m worried about that. Even though it’s an amazing card, and the whole entire thing is stacked with superstar to superstar, I like my chances, I like my odds.”
Be sure to catch Joe Lauzon take on Michael Johnson at UFC on FOX Sports 1 as the new, all sports network launches this Saturday. Preliminary bouts will air on Facebook beginning at 4pm/1pm ET/PT. A second preliminary card and the main card will air on FOX Sports 1 beginning at 6pm/3pm ET/PT and 8pm/5pm ET/PT, respectively.