Joe Lauzon prepares to enter the Octagon before facing Marcin Held of Poland in their lightweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event inside Talking Stick Resort Arena on January 15, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)" align="center" />
Joe Lauzon doesn’t need this kind of pressure before a big fight, but if anyone can handle it, it’s Massachusetts’ finest, so I proposed an addition to his duties in Norfolk this weekend. He is now Director of Marketing for the UFC. How does he sell his matchup with Clay Guida?
“Just show highlights of our previous fights,” he says without hesitation. “Between the two of us, you could make a 15-minute highlight video of us just brawling it out and smashing people and getting hit with shots and fighting back. I think all the longtime, hardcore fans are all excited about it. Maybe some of the newer people maybe don’t know about it as much, but if they see a couple clips, they’re gonna be excited and gonna be into it.”
It’s a simple formula, but a perfect one, and that’s why Lauzon’s bout with Guida is one of the most highly anticipated of the year. There are no pyrotechnic shows, no bad blood, just two vets of the game who have always showed up and fought. When it was over, they picked up their check – often with a bonus attached – and waited for the next call. Maybe that blue collar attitude is why the two lightweight standouts have never fought before.
“I think we’re both the kind of guys that don’t go calling people out,” Lauzon said. “If you get two guys that are both pretty passive about who they’re going to fight, it doesn’t necessarily happen. I get guys calling me out on Twitter all the time. They see the Fight of the Nights and the bonuses and stuff like that, and I don’t even acknowledge them. (Laughs) I don’t retweet, I don’t reply, I just completely ignore them. I don’t want to go and reward that kind of behavior. But with Diego Sanchez in their lightweight bout during the UFC 200 event on July 9, 2016 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV (Photo by Harry How/Zuffa LLC)" align="right" />Clay, he’s not calling out anyone. I feel like he’s the same as me. He’ll fight whoever they tell him to fight.”
In many ways, Lauzon, 33, and Guida, 35, who debuted in the UFC a month apart from each other in 2006, are throwbacks to a different era, not just in fighting style but lifestyle. Back when they entered the Octagon for the first time, MMA was just starting to hit the mainstream, and since it wasn’t completely there yet, a fighter had to be a jack of all trades to survive and thrive. And there was – and is – no instruction manual for that.
“The average fighter starting out is like a little toddler so they don’t know what’s good for them,” Lauzon said. “They don’t know when they should do something or when they shouldn’t. Everything that I would expect my three-year-old to do is the typical fighter. (Laughs) They can’t get to places on time, they can’t do this, they can’t do that. But now because there’s more money involved, you get all these managers that are like these helicopter parents a little bit. So they don’t really have to be on top of things because there’s someone texting or telling them all the time, ‘Hey, you gotta do this.’ For us, we didn’t have that to that extent. There wasn’t a lot of money, so you couldn’t pay somebody to babysit us and we had to do stuff on our own. Things are a little different now.”
Yet it is a testament to their professionalism that Lauzon and Guida are still here and still competing in big fights. For Lauzon, who is tied with Nate Diaz for most post-fight bonuses in UFC history, that was a given. Yet when Guida went on a 1-3 skid at featherweight, his return to the lightweight division in June was seen as the last shot of a desperate fighter. It wasn’t, as Guida looked rejuvenated and better than ever in a one-sided defeat of Erik Koch. It was a victory that surprised many, including Lauzon.
“I thought he looked sharp,” Lauzon said. “I’m always hesitant to think guys are gonna do well when they’re jumping divisions. After all the stuff he did to make 145 - he lost muscle, he lost this, he lost that, the training is different - when you try and go back to where you were before, you sacrificed a lot to get down to 145, and it’s just not gonna help you when you come back up. So I didn’t expect him to do very well. That being said, now he’s going to be able to eat a lot more food and he’s not starving himself, so there are some things that are better about coming up a weight class. But I was surprised that it went so well. He did a great job and he fought really hard. He’s always had a good skill set, he’s always had great cardio and he’s always been a maniac. I just think him trying to make that weight was probably a little bit too much.”
But now Guida is back at 155, Lauzon is waiting for him, and the director of marketing has the final word on why you should be watching it on Saturday night.
“It’s an exciting fight, it’s a great fight and it’s gonna be a fan-friendly fight.”