The first time the UFC held an event at the TD Garden five years ago, hometown favorite Joe Lauzon couldn’t hear his corner. Despite the fact that they were screaming at him from just 3 inches away, the cheers and crowd noise was that deafening. He sold 600 tickets and everyone he knew came in representing, wearing shamrock green shirts Lauzon had made up for them.
When UFC on FOX Sports 1: 1 takes center stage in Boston on August 17, Lauzon said he hoping to mimic everything he did last time, but wants fill 1,000 seats with his family and friends this time. Of course being in his own backyard comes with its perks; like shooting air rifles with his crew on fight night, sleeping in his own bed, and most importantly finding the down time to focus before the fight.
“I’m really super excited to be fighting in Boston, but at the same time it’s going to be really hard to live up to that last fight,” Lauzon said to MMA Fight Corner. “It was the first time the UFC had come to Boston. It was the first time I got to fight in the Garden. It was such an awesome fight, a pretty one-sided beating. Everybody hated Gabe [Ruediger]. It’s a lot to live up to. I’m going to try to out do it, but it’s going to be tough.”
The way Lauzon throws caution to the wind in his fights may be appreciated by fans that look for exciting finishes, but fighting all out wars can take its toll. Battles like the Jim Miller fight can wear on a fighter. Though he’s had his moments of wondering how much more his body can take, Lauzon made it clear that he has no intentions of stepping away from the sport just yet.
“I think about that sometimes, but I thought about that since my first fight though – my first fight against [Jens] Pulver. I remember after that training camp, the week of the fight I was like ‘I’m never fighting again’,” Lauzon recounted. “Like, ‘If I have to do this much work, it’s not worth it. I don’t want to keep doing this, I don’t want this to be my life. It’s just way too much to try and maintain’. And then I go out there and win the fight and everything’s great and I can’t wait to do it again.”
“So, it’s a little tough after a loss, but I like to think that I fight a smart fight. I made a couple comments after the fight like ‘I don’t want to end up with brain damage’ and stuff like that and I think people jumped on that a little bit too much. I wasn’t saying that I’m getting crazy brain damage every single fight and I’m not going to be able to find my car.
“The fact of the matter is you are out there, you are going to get hit,” Lauzon continued. “What I was talking about is if I have 200 fights and have lots of brain damage, take a lot of hits to the head like the Jim Miller fight, that stuff is going to accumulate. I’m not super worried about it. I think I fight smart fights, I think I train smart. I think I do everything I can and when it’s time for me to stop fighting, I’ll definitely know. I won’t be one of those guys who’s hanging on trying to get one more fight.”
Before he walks away, Lauzon would love nothing more than to obtain UFC gold. The lightweight division is regarded as one of the most competitive in the UFC and Lauzon is fully aware of what he’ll have to do to achieve that goal.
“You’re always looking at that title thing. I understand things are going to happen from time to time and if I have a year left in the sport, a title’s probably not going to happen,” Lauzon said. “But if I have 3 or 4 years, a lot can change in that time. I have been a little bit inconsistent with, you know, I get a couple wins, I get a loss…and that’s something where I’ve got to put together a few more wins, but I don’t think it’s ever out of the question – especially when there’s so many injuries and things like that that pop up all the time. There’s been tons of guys that have gotten title shots coming off a loss. I think it’s all about just being a little bit more consistent and just staying in the gym and staying active.”
Lauzon (22-8) is expected to go toe-to-toe with Michael Johnson (12-8) on August 17 at the TD Garden at UFC on FOX Sports 1: 1.