Joe Lauzon is one of the most aggressive fighters in the UFC. Despite fighting at 155 pounds, a weight class in which a high percentage of fights go to decision, Lauzon’s fights almost never go the distance. Lauzon has now fought in the UFC 15 times but has only accumulated 106 minutes of fight time, an average of about seven minutes per fight. That includes Lauzon’s last two fights, back-to-back decision losses to Jim Miller and Michael Johnson. Lauzon has won 22 fights in his career but is 0-3 in fights that go the distance.
If Lauzon wants to avoid losing his third consecutive fight he needs to take Mac Danzig to the ground. This is not because Danzig is a particularly good striker; in fact, Danzig is a mediocre striker who has absorbed more significant strikes than he’s landed throughout his UFC career. It’s because Lauzon grades out as one of the worst strikers in the UFC. Lauzon has absorbed 4.69 significant strikes per minute, the most of any UFC lightweight with at least 60 minutes of fight time. Danzig would almost certainly land more strikes over the course of 15 minutes.
Fortunately for Lauzon, he should have more success getting Danzig to the ground than he had against Johnson. While Johnson’s takedown defense rate is a strong 76 percent, Danzig’s takedown defense rate is below average at 49 percent. Danzig has been taken down 24 times in 13 UFC/PRIDE fights for an average of 2.7 takedowns per 15 minutes.
The ground game is where Lauzon’s aggression really comes into play. While a lot of fighters choose not to take risks from top position, Lauzon is very active in throwing strikes, passing guard, and looking for a submission finish. 18 of his 22 career wins have come by way of submission and he’s attempted 24 submissions in the UFC, seven of which have forced his opponent to tap out. Danzig is not immune to being submitted as he’s lost by that method twice in his career (although one of the two was a poor referee stoppage on a guillotine choke by Matt Wiman).
While I feel Danzig is poorly equipped to counter Lauzon’s fighting style there are certainly ways he could win this fight. Most of them center around forcing Lauzon to engage in a striking battle. Lauzon hasn’t attempted as many takedowns in recent fights as he should have – he was 0/4 in takedowns against Johnson and just 0/1 against Miller. It’s possible Lauzon could settle for a striking match against Danzig, in which case Danzig should be considered a heavy favorite to win.
It’s also possible that Lauzon could gas himself out if he seeks a finish too aggressively. Lauzon has paced himself better in recent fights than he used to, but with a two-fight losing streak he might compete with more nervous energy than is normal for him. Lauzon has had issues with conditioning in the past (most notably against George Sotiropoulos) and if those re-surface then Danzig is in business. Either way I think the best chance Danzig has of winning (by far) is to focus on takedown and submission defense and striking offense.
With Danzig’s history of mediocre takedown defense I don’t have a lot of faith in his ability to neutralize Lauzon’s aggressive grappling. I believe Lauzon will succeed at taking the fight to the ground where he will either win by submission or score enough points with the submission game to win the first decision of his career.
Pick: Joe Lauzon by submission