UFC 144 Predictions: Keys to Victory for Joe Lauzon

Patrick StraubContributor IIIFebruary 25, 2012

Any opponent who steps into the cage with Joe Lauzon knows full well the danger they’re walking into.  Lauzon has been making his intentions clear in his fights since he entered the UFC.  Make it a grappling match, find the submission.  Ideally, don’t let the fight find the third round.

Who can blame him?  His success in this area has garnered him a reputation as a fighter who could pull off a win against some of the top fighters in the division, as he did against a heavily favored Melvin Guillard in his most recent fight at UFC 136. 

If Lauzon wants himself to be considered among the best in the division, he’ll need to get by Anthony Pettis tonight at UFC 144.  Pettis’ skills as the cage-flying Duke Roufus understudy are well-documented, so Lauzon will want this fight on the ground as soon as possible.

Though he’s certainly sharpened his standup over the years, Pettis excels at throwing his limbs around and isn’t wont to suffer opponents besting him in that area.  Clay Guida knew the key to his victory over Pettis was beating him up on the ground, and that’s exactly what he did in their fight.

Pettis is certainly no slouch as a grappler, and Lauzon won’t have a walk in the park to victory simply by putting Pettis on the canvas.  Ultimately, Lauzon isn’t likely to be able to defeat Pettis any other way, but that was likely the case going into the Guillard fight and we saw how that turned out.  

Lauzon’s last two losses were to a superior grappler in George Sotiropoulos, who beat him via kimura, and the more telling decision defeat at the hands of Sam Stout.  In that fight, Lauzon was unable to secure any of his early submission attempts, and by the third round he was completely gassed out and served as a heavy bag for Stout’s punch-kick combos.

Despite Lauzon’s clear intentions in every fight he walks into, a grappling match always seems to break out soon after the opening bell rings.  I’m of the mind that Lauzon will undoubtedly make that happen again, and I like Lauzon to find a way to win this fight in the first round if that occurs.  A trip into the second round or beyond could be trouble, and will work against what he’s trying to accomplish.