In part two of MMAConvert’s exclusive interview with Joe Lauzon, Joe tells us how he thinks the UFC’s lightweights stack up against DREAM’s, his dream fight card, why he won’t be playing as himself in UFC 2009 Undisputed, and when you can expect to see him return from his knee injury. Be sure to check out part one if you missed it.
Going back to the Kenny Florian fight, when you had said that you didn’t know if you’re on the plateau of Jens Pulver going into the fight, after this fight with Kenny Florian, where do you stack up against the other UFC lightweights? Is there a level of fighters above you, or are you right there at the top now do you think?
I think I’m competitive with pretty much everyone. I do think there is a slightly higher tier of guys, guys like BJ and so on. But I think I’m close, I mean I think BJ’s the top of the top, and I’m definitely not there yet, but I think I’m pretty close to being at their level.
And where do the DREAM lightweights stack up with the UFC lightweights? There’s been a lot of talk whether Shinya Aoki should be ranked ahead of BJ Penn or not. Is there anyone in DREAM you’d like to fight, and how do you see those match-ups going?
There’s a bunch of guys that are super tough over there. It’s very tough to try to place some of those guys though. You’ve got guys from PRIDE, you know, Cro Cop and all those other guys that everyone thought were killers and then when they came over they weren’t doing so well. Shogun hasn’t done amazing, Cro Cop didn’t look that good, there’s been a couple of guys that everyone thought were going to be absolute killers and wipe everyone up over here, and that wasn’t the case. I think that it’s real tough to compare guys in the UFC versus guys in DREAM. I have to assume the UFC guys are still on top just based on how those other fights went.
You seem to have a lot of admiration for BJ Penn, and rightfully so, what are your thoughts on the never-ending feud that he seems to have with Georges St. Pierre and the whole greasing controversy?
It’s really an unfortunate situation all the way through. With fighting it doesn’t matter, you can have the most valid excuse in the whole world on why something happened, but if you even mention it you’re kind of the asshole. It’s tough for BJ because I think he has a very legitimate complaint. You know, it was very clear that grease was applied and people argue about how much it really affected the outcome and everything else, but it’s clear that grease was applied and it did have some effect. Whether it had a big impact, small impact, whatever, people don’t even care. (People will say) It doesn’t matter, he lost, go cry about it. It’s a terrible situation because I think it did have a pretty big effect on it, but I think BJ didn’t do himself any favors with a lot of they way he tried to hype the fight up and some of the comments he made. It came back to bite him a little bit.
I likened it to the illegal elbows that Kenny Florian used on you. You could tell by the cuts on the back of your head after the fight that those weren’t to the side of the head, they were clearly to the back of the head, but you seemed to just go about it in stride. Would you say it’s on the same level?
People are amazing sometimes because I have pictures where you can clearly see cuts in the center on the back of my head. Herb Dean, the referee, stood us up saying they were illegal and warning him, and people are still arguing that they weren’t illegal. People say it had no effect. Obviously you can see that I’m rushing and that I’m rattled by the fact that I have a huge cut on the back of my head, blood all over the place. Some people you just can’t win no matter what. They’re just always going to say ‘Oh well, you’re making excuses.’
Of course. Joe, with UFC 100 right around the corner everyone has their own idea of what a dream mixed martial arts card would be. What two or three fights would be right up there on yours, forgetting about exclusive contracts for a second and just pick some match-ups that you would love to see.
You mentioned Aoki, and I think that would be a good fight (against BJ Penn). I’d love to see that one. I’d love to see Couture come back and fight someone like a Brock Lesnar, something like that. I think that would be an awesome fight if they fought again. And third one, Anderson and GSP. That’s what I would like to see. I think that would be an awesome fight too. Weight classes aside, I think that St-Pierre is a bigger welterweight, I mean, the guys a monster. And Anderson has fought at 205, he fights at 185, and maybe they could meet at 180, or something like that.
I also understand you’re an avid gamer. With UFC Undisputed coming out shortly, what are your thoughts on being featured in the video game and have you had a chance to play it yet?
I’m probably the worst fighter in the game. It’s like playing Wrestlemania 2000, there’s some really good guys but there’s also some terrible guys in there too. I’m sure I’m going to have all kinds of problems with my character and everything else. I’ll think my guy should have had different moves or something. I’m built into the game, but I’m sure I’ll go ahead and make my own version of myself.
What’s your relationship with UFC President, Dana White? Are you guys on amicable terms, or do you even speak with him much?
We’re on pretty good terms. You know, Dana’s from Boston and I’m from Boston, so that definitely helps. I went to the House of Pain thing that he did up here. I always talk to him and it’s always friendly. Anything I’ve ever asked, I’ve never had a problem. You know what I mean? So yeah, Dana’s awesome.
If you were in his shoes, is there anything different that you’d do as UFC President, or is he doing a pretty good job up to this point?
I think he’s doing a good job. You know, he takes crap all the time for the language and all that. But working for him is just fine, I wouldn’t change a thing. I think he’s done a great job with everything.
Back to your fighting career again if you don’t mind. How do you want to be remembered in this sport? Is legacy something that’s important to you, or are you just out there to compete?
I think legacy is important to everyone a little bit. I’m not going out trying to set a legacy, I’m just trying to go out and fight my way. I like being aggressive, so I’d like to be remembered for that a little bit. I’m pretty smart at picking apart the fight game, so there’s that. But I don’t think you set a legacy by going out and trying to set a legacy. You go out and do things your way and hopefully it’ll work out for you.
When you’re done fighting and you look back at your career, would you be happy with anything less than a UFC Championship?
That’s definitely the goal. I think it’s the goal for everyone in the UFC. To get the belt is the most important thing.
As a fighter, your fan interaction is second to none really. Facebook, Twitter, your terrific website, you’re very accessible. Is that something that’s fun for you, or is it kind of necessary in a sense in this sport when you’re trying to grow and grow a larger fan base?
I have fun with it. If I wasn’t having fun with it, I wouldn’t be doing it as much. I think it does look good though to the UFC, it does look good to sponsors. But I just have fun interacting with people and seeing what’s going on and what they think. The Internet has had such a big impact on me. I was reading all the message boards and I still go on The Underground, mixedmartialarts.com. I was going on there before I even knew what the UFC was. I would post on there and I was just a complete nobody. I couldn’t even do an arm-lock and I was posting on there, reading about things. I think it’s just cool being able to interact with so many different people.
What’s next for Joe Lauzon? I hear spring 2010 is when you’ll be starting to train again. How many wins do you think you might be away from a title shot, and who are some future opponents you might like to face? I know you’ve mentioned Hermes Franca, Kenny Florian, and Clay Guida. Is there anybody else at the top of the list?
So many things can change in a year’s time, so who knows? I’ll fight whoever they want me to fight. Hopefully I can get back a little sooner than spring 2010 providing my knee is one hundred percent. If my knee’s only ninety-five percent, I’m not going to risk it. I’m going to wait until I’m ready to fight, I’m definitely not going to rush it. If they want me to fight any of those guys, I’m good to go. So many things can happen in a year that I’m not even going to really think about it yet.
Alright Joe, well thanks a lot for taking the time to talk to us. I know you have a very busy schedule. I’ve been a fan for a very long time, and now I’m an even bigger fan, so thank you very, very much.
Are there any sponsors, family, or friends that we can thank for you?
My entire family, my brother Dan, my brother Steve, my parents. All my coaches, my teammates, and all those guys. I put in a lot of work getting ready for a fight, but they’re right there with me every step of the way. Sprawl Fight Shorts has always been my number one sponsor, so a big thank you to them as well.