To understand the story of UFC on Fox 9‘s Joe Lauzon, you have to understand the context in which he burst onto the UFC scene.
During the dark years of the UFC, Jens Pulver ruled the lightweight division. Many expected BJ Penn to dethrone him with ease at UFC 35, but he remained king. However, with little opportunities to make money in the US, Pulver, like many others, moved over to Pride.
The lightweight division remained a mess for the UFC. A tournament to crown a new champion ended in a draw between BJ Penn and Caol Uno, and the division was scrapped entirely after Yves Edwards knocked out Josh Thomson — with Edwards becoming the uncrowned lightweight champion.
In 2006, the UFC finally brought back the lightweight division. The de facto king of the UFC lightweight division, Yves Edwards, returned to the promotion at UFC 58, however his return plans would be spoiled by Mark Hominick. However, fans still greatly awaited the return of the king that had never been dethroned — Jens Pulver.
Pulver would return to the UFC at UFC 63 in September 2006, and would face a completely unheralded Joe Lauzon. Pulver was a massive favorite, and the result was shocking. The unknown Bostonian made quick work of the returning champion, finishing Pulver in 48 seconds. The fight raised a ton of questions. Was Lauzon the next big thing at lightweight? Was Pulver done?
In a surprising move, the UFC decided to cast Joe Lauzon on Season 5 of TUF, with Jens Pulver as one of the coaches. Lauzon would go on to lose to Manny Gamburyan in the semi-finals, but fans knew Lauzon had potential.
Years later, and it seems Lauzon never quite lived up to the hype.
Lauzon has made a career out of putting on exciting fights, and scoring exciting submission finishes, but he’s yet to score another signature win at the magnitude of his win over Jens Pulver. With nearly every step up in competition, against the likes of Kenny Florian, Jim Miller, and Anthony Pettis, he has lost, and he has fallen flat in several fights he was expected to win, like against Sam Stout, and most recently, Michael Johnson. Indeed, the only truly good win of his UFC career since defeating Pulver was his upset over the then surging Melvin Guillard at UFC 136.
Make no mistake, Lauzon has shown he can be competitive with most in the division, and can put on a fight of the night performance against anyone. But a true divisional contender? Nobody sees Lauzon in this way anymore.
While it was entertaining, Lauzon was on wrong end of a bloodbath against Jim Miller. And most recently against Michael Johnson, he was easily outpointed in arguably his least impressive performance to date. Make no mistake, when Joe Lauzon steps in the Octagon, nobody should be taking a snack break. You just can’t expect at this point that he’s ever going to have a serious run for the title in his career ever again, as much as it pains this loyal fan.