Friday, October 18, 2019

With a keen mind, a degree in engineering, and a good IT job, Joe Lauzon never had to fight. He fights because he loves it. He quit the IT job because he loves to fight. That love and talent made him for years the UFC's leading Performance Bonus winner (he's now tied for 2nd with Nate Diaz, behind 'Cowboy' Cerrone).

Today Lauzon runs the successful Lauzon MMA in South Easton, Massachusetts. I was there earlier this year and there were six UFC fighters on the mat; it was an average Saturday. No other gym in New England can say the same.

Now he's 35, and for the first time ever in a career that spans 15 years, he has lost three in a row. Before the last fight, he planned to retire if he lost. He lost, and turned his focus to the business.

“I was always like 90 percent fighter and 10 percent gym owner,” said Lauzon to Elias Cepeda for Yahoo Sports. “Then, for about eight months, I switched that ratio. I still trained — I’m on the mats every day — but I focused on improving things and systems at the gym and not on getting myself ready for competition.”

As his body started to heal up, he rethought the retirement decision. On Saturday at UFC on ESPN 6 at the TD Garden in Boston, Lauzon fights Jonathan Pearce, who has won five in a row, and enters the UFC coming off a Round 3 TKO on Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series.

"... the Boston card came around. I talked to [matchmaker] Sean Shelby and he said, ‘I don’t know, you have to talk to Dana about it.’ So I talked to Dana and he was reluctant," explained Lauzon. "But I told him, ‘Look, if I go out there and do poorly, you won’t hear from me again.’ So they decided to give me another fight.”

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. Joe Lauzon is not insane. He has spent a year working with Skill of Strength founder Mike Perry. He has supplemented his Steve Maze-honed boxing base by training with Muay Thai expert Jake Mainini.

“It’s easy to fall into a habit where you do what you do just because you’ve always done it,” he tells Cepeda. “I decided to go back to what got me into the UFC, what made me successful, and seek out whoever I needed to in order to improve. I got out of my comfort zone.”

With a win, maybe he will fight again.

“I feel like when guys say ahead of a fight that this is their last fight they are mentally packing it in a bit,” he said. “If I lose, though, I’m done.”

This is Joe Lauzon:

“There would be worse ways to go out than fighting at home in the Boston Garden and winning," he said correctly.

Watch him Saturday night. It may be his last fight.