Joe Lauzon’s career in the UFC can be summarized by one word: inconsistency. The Massachusetts native has had a penchant for trading wins and losses without ever truly establishing any consistent run of dominance. The reasons for this lack of regularity are not because of an intrinsic absence of ability within him. Rather, the perennially stacked Lightweight division has given him no shortage of incredibly tough challenges. The makeup of 155 lbs is the reason, above all others, why Lauzon and others find it so hard to make significant strides.
It may come as a shock to many that “J-Lau” does not currently occupy the ranks of the top 15 at Lightweight. Those who are shocked by that fact are clearly unaware of the gross ineptitude of the UFC’s ranking system. Nevertheless, when looking through those rankings one cannot make a real iron-clad case for the removal of any one fighter in place of Lauzon – only the inactive Al Iaquinta and now Welterweight Donald Cerrone really stand out. Still though, when you appreciate that names like Jim Miller, Will Brooks, Joe Duffy, and many more also don’t grace that esteemed hierarchy it makes sense that Lauzon too is not among them.
The fact that you have so many elite athletes outside of a division’s top 15 is proof of the level of competition your average UFC lightweight must face. In the past 4 years, Lauzon has lost 6 fights, 3 of which were to current top 15 fighters, 1 of which was to Former Champion Anthony Pettis, and the remaining 2 were to Jim Miller who has historically been a top 15 fighter. It should also be noted that Lauzon’s last loss to Miller was a controversial split-decision.
“J-Lau’s” recent record tells us a number of things. First: he only losses to the absolute elite at Lightweight. Second: he also often beats top Lightweight talent– see his wins over Michael Chiesa, Jamie Varner, and Diego Sanchez. I think it’s fair to say that Lauzon has not been preforming to the best of his ability as of late. His lack of victories over big-name fighters has lead many to wonder whether or not he has the ability to do so.
The 15-time Fight Night Bonus Winner has gained a cult following for his fan-friendly game. While Lauzon has not been submitted in seven years his ever improving stand-up has lead to a series knockout losses. However, in his upcoming fight, the Bridgewater resident faces a complimentary challenge in leg-lock specialist Marcin Held. While, Held is by no means Lightweight elite he does have an exemplary record in MMA and a series of impressive accomplishments in the world of Gi and No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu.
A win over Held will not pay immediate dividends for “J-Lau”. It will not prove he can beat the elite of the elite nor will it showcase his ability to be consistent. What a win will do though is act as a platform on which he can begin to prove those doubts about him wrong. A win over an extremely dangerous opponent can lead to a snowball effect whereby, should he continue to win, Lauzon can prove his worth at 155 lbs.
The ability to go on any kind of win-streak at Lightweight has been highly understated. Only a few fighters have accomplished such feats e.g. Tony Ferguson, Donald Cerrone, Khabib Nurmagomedov. Is it any wonder then, that even the toughest men at 155 lbs find themselves outside the top 15 and unable to string together a couple of wins?
Lightweight is often billed as the most talented and ruthless division in all of MMA – and rightly so. But if Lauzon wants anything more than a cult following or the record for most Fight Night Bonuses he needs to upset his current predilection. That revolution begins on Sunday, January 15th in Phoenix, Arizona.