With the Ultimate Fighting Championship set to host one of its most important cards of the year in Boston on Saturday, there was one name that was almost assuredly going to be part of the event.
Joe Lauzon is as close to a guarantee of providing an exciting fight as anyone in the sport, and he will take on Michael Johnson in the first bout of the main card as the organization helps launch the new Fox Sports 1 network.
A Boston native, Lauzon has earned 12 fight-night bonuses in just 14 appearances in the organization. The 29-year-old lightweight said that while the extra money is nice, he doesn’t specifically set out to pursue the lucrative bonuses for best knockout, best submission and best fight of the night.
It just happens.
“I don’t think about the bonuses. It’s not like something I go after,” he said Thursday from Boston. “It’s just the way my style is and, honestly, I wouldn’t know how to fight any other way. I go out there and my style just happens to get me bonuses. But I’ve never thought like, ‘Oh, I’m going to do this exciting move because that will get me a bonus.’ I want to go out there and impress people and because that’s what is important to me and the bonuses just come.”
The UFC of course wants every fight to be exciting, but Saturday night’s card carries particular importance. The organization is a cornerstone of the new network and has been charged with helping introduce Fox Sports 1 (Cable 329) as it is rebranded from Speed on Saturday.
It’s no coincidence that Lauzon will be in the opening fight of the main card, which begins at 5 p.m.
“I think it’s awesome,” he said. “I feel like they’re choosing me because they know I can set the tone for the whole thing. I appreciate that because they are showing faith I’m going to put on an exciting fight. They don’t want to start the first night off with a fight that might be a little slow. They know that won’t happen.”
While Lauzon has carved out a nice niche as a company and fan favorite, he has dropped two of his last three fights to fall out of immediate title contention. He is a very skilled grappler who might find more success in the win-loss column if he chose a more cautious approach to his fights.
The former network administrator with a computer science degree admits he has considered the possibility, but quickly dismissed the potential strategy.
“I have thought about it, but there’s also been times where I took a big risk or gamble and it paid off beautifully for me and actually helped me win fights,” he said. “I think it’s too difficult to try to Monday-morning-quarterback every decision you made in a fight so I just go out and fight like I always have.”
Lauzon’s fight kicks off the main card, which is headlined by a light heavyweight bout between Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Chael Sonnen.
A four-fight preliminary card will also air on Fox Sports 1, beginning at 3 p.m.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.