Joe Lauzon almost died on April 21.
Okay, that sounds too much like clickbait, but those were the words that came out of the man’s mouth after a particularly intense workout with his strength and conditioning coach, Mike Perry.
“I have never been redlined so bad in my entire life last Thursday,” laughed Lauzon on April 28 as he prepared for the last session with Perry before Saturday’s UFC 274 bout against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. “I almost fell off the bike and I was laying on the ground, on my belly for like ten minutes afterwards. I had people keep coming over and asking me if I was okay. They thought I passed out.”
It’s the price you pay for getting ready for a prizefight at the age of 37, but Lauzon isn’t complaining (well, not too much), because when he has a strength and conditioning coach like Perry or former coach Kyle Holland in the gym with him and not remotely, he can tell the difference on fight night.
So can we, as evidenced by his 93-second knockout of Jonathan Pearce in his most recent bout in October 2019. That kind of win in his 44th pro fight, and it being in his Boston backyard, that’s the storybook ending for any fighter.
Joe Lauzon | Career Retrospective
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Joe Lauzon | Career Retrospective
“We always want the perfect night,” said Lauzon. “I don't expect the perfect night; I do hope it goes perfectly, but it never goes perfectly. That time it did. Everything aligned just right, everything was good, and you hope for that, but you can't expect that. For me, camp is the important thing. I can't control the fight, but I can control camp. So the biggest difference from my last fight versus the bunch of fights prior to that was my strength and conditioning coach.”
In Lauzon’s eyes, that’s a good omen for his highly anticipated return against Cerrone, another one of this era’s undisputed action heroes. It’s a shocker that we’ve never seen the two in the Octagon before this, and it was even a surprise to Lauzon, who wasn’t exactly beating down the UFC’s door to get back to fighting ASAP post-Pearce. Why? Well, the Joe Lauzon business is doing just fine without him fighting.
“I'm crushing it with my gym right now,” he said of the business he’s had since 2009. “That was honestly the biggest reason why I thought about maybe not trying to fight again and not pressing so hard. I spend a lot of time working on the gym, probably close to 40 hours a week, because that's just how my brain works. I wake up, I start going through emails, I try to watch videos and I'm learning stuff - I'm always doing something like that. But my time is super flexible. I teach classes in the morning on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10 to 11. And then I teach a kids’ class for 45 minutes twice a week, and that's all I have to do as far as responsibility. So it's been awesome, I wasn't getting punched in the face, and I'm like, do I really want to go back and do this? I'm just gonna be open to opportunities and ideas. And they came back with Cowboy. So I had to really think, do I definitely want to do this? And when I thought about it, I definitely did. I don't want to be that guy that's regretting not doing it later on, so here we are.”
Indeed, and Lauzon sounds excited about making the walk again. And as far as his perfect scenario, he’s got one.
“I feel like the whole entire thing is win-win for me,” he said. “Obviously, no one wants to go and get knocked out, no one wants to go and lose. My last fight was so perfect because I could have gone out on a win and it was in Boston, and it was this home run of a fight, and everything was great. But I feel like it puts an exclamation mark at the end if we go out there and we beat 'Cowboy' and we go out like that. The ideal situation is, he blows weight, I take 20 percent of his money, we get the win bonus, a performance bonus and we sail off into the sunset and we let that be it.”
Lauzon laughs, and unfortunately for him, Cerrone hit his mark on the scales Friday at 155.5 pounds. As for the rest, that’s up to New England’s finest, a fighter who may not have won a world title in the UFC, but who made a fan out of everyone who watched him in action. And sometimes, that’s an even more important legacy to have. Hall of Fame-esque, even.
“I appreciate the good words, and honestly, making the UFC Hall of Fame would be awesome,” said Lauzon. “All my serious fights as a professional have all been in the UFC, I never wanted to go anywhere else, so I love the UFC. The UFC has been the biggest part of my life for the last 15, 16 years, so I'm proud that I make people feel that way. I think that sometimes people forget how difficult it is to win fights, and it makes it that much more impressive when people have great records and things like that. Whoever they wanted me to fight, I fought. You're gonna see the exact same thing on May 7th.”
Ah, May 7th. It’s almost here.
“If I don't get kicked in the neck and I don't get my ribs broke from a knee up the middle, then he's in a lot of trouble.”
UFC 274: Oliveira vs Gaethje took place on Saturday, May 7, 2022, live from a sold out Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses — and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!