While the “of the Night” bonus king (well, tied with Anderson Silva for kingship) Joe Lauzon is likely in no danger of being released from his UFC contract, the same cannot be said for Mac Danzig who holds one of the worst UFC records today. With a combined 8 Fight of the Night honors, this isn’t one you will want to miss as both fighters are trying to avoid losing three straight.

Joe Lauzon (22-9 MMA, 9-6 UFC) vs. Mac Danzig (21-11 MMA, 5-7 UFC)

UFC on FOX 9 hosts a lightweight battle fight two battle tested veterans of the sport in Danzig and Lauzon – a battle that doesn’t have any title implications or much effect in regards to rankings, but does hold importance to both fighters jobs in the UFC as well as their relevance as fighters. With Danzig being on a downward trend in his career and Lauzon seemingly entering one, expectations for a war are high going into this fight. For this fight, Danzig chose to forgo any sponsor to which Dana White commented “You guys can get the $50,000 – you won’t need any sponsor.” Expect caution to be thrown to the wind and for both fighters to throw everything they have at each other.

Lauzon [-172] has a higher chance of having his job remain in the UFC should he lose this fight given his history of exciting performances and his 12 “of the Night” honors, but that isn’t to say that he isn’t going to come out and fight like he has everything to lose to avoid losing the dreaded three straight. Coming off of a very disappointing performance against Michael Johnson where he looked outclassed on the feet and mentally weak, Lauzon is going to have to come up big in this fight to show that he’s still, at the very least, worthy of a fringe top 10 fight.

To do so, he needs to remember what his strengths are. Against Johnson, he simply plodded forward and ate the strikes of the faster and more technical striker but that isn’t to say Lauzon has terrible striking. Danzig, though, is superior on the feet to Lauzon, although not by as much of a margin nor is he as athletic with as good of take down defense as Johnson – that said, this would be the perfect time for Lauzon to go back to his submission game that earned him 18 wins in the past. We all know Lauzon can take a shot and keep coming forward – he shouldn’t have to worry about being knocked out by Danzig so he should constantly move forward and apply pressure on Danzig against the cage and do his best to drag the fight to the ground. While Danzig is a capable grappler earning 10 submission wins of his own, Lauzon should be expected to get the better of him should it hit the canvas though nothing will come easy.

Lauzon’s Keys to Victory:

  • Get Off First – Don’t wait for Danzig to throw first. Get in his face, throw your combinations and level change to keep him guessing. Doing so will open up holes in Danzig’s striking resulting in more success on the feet and ultimately more success with the take down.
  • Focus – We saw in the Johnson fight that Lauzon appeared unable to find his rhythm or really even get into the fight. Keeping a mental focus is key in this fight as it is likely to get to the grueling stages. When it gets bloody, he needs to stay focused. Danzig is notoriously hard to put away and with Lauzon still yet to earn a decision victory he needs to make sure there are no mental blocks preventing him from taking home a decision should it last that long.
  • Look For The Submission – As mentioned, Danzig holds the advantage on the feet. Lauzon does not possess the striking to knock out Danzig (something only Melvin Guillard has been able to do in the UFC, with his only other knock out loss coming from Hayato Sakurai back in Pride) and it isn’t likely he will be able to out point him. If he remembers where his strengths are, he should be able to take this one. But if he fights Danzig’s fight, it could be another long night for him.

Danzig [+160] is undoubtedly in a do-or-die situation coming off of a split decision loss to Takanori Gomi and a knock out loss to Guillard (where he was very out matched stylistically)  – having already survived one three fight losing streak, with the recent increase in fighter cuts due to the roster being “f***ing full” it isn’t likely he will survive another. Fortunately for him, stylistically he isn’t at a huge disadvantage anywhere making this fight very winnable for him should he stay calculated against his blood thirsty opponent.

Danzig and Lauzon really aren’t too far off in terms of skill sets and attributes – they’re both tough and gritty, they’re both well versed in all aspects of the game, but where they differ is their methods of combat. While Danzig is able to make technical adjustments on a moments notice and has an edge in striking, Lauzon has a blood lust that is make or break for him as well as an edge on the ground. Danzig will start off with the advantage of having the fight begin on the feet, and with Lauzon’s lack of technical wrestling or solid take downs it is possible that he will be able to keep the fight there and hope to pick apart Lauzon on the feet much like Johnson was able to. Lauzon brings forth a  different type of intensity but as the fights go on the intensity takes its toll on him – Danzig is very hard to put away and will be especially so for Lauzon if he isn’t able to pull off a submission, so should this fight go into the later rounds Danzig will have a greater chance at success.

Danzig’s Keys to Victory:

  • Maintain Distance – Establish a solid jab early to keep Lauzon at range. Strike from the fringe and circle off of the cage to prevent Lauzon from securing any take downs or forcing a clinch.
  • Weather The Storm – Lauzon’s effectiveness tends to fade almost exactly at the half way point. He’s only earned one victory in the UFC that has at least entered the third round. Whether it is because his gas tank empties due to his intensity or if it’s because of a mental block, Danzig should look to exploit this.
  • Calculation – The key to beating a blood-lusted fighter is to remain cool and focused. While he is mounting his aggression, stick your jab in his face and circle away from his power side. Pick him apart and use his aggression against him to make him frustrated and ineffective.

Prediction: Mac Danzig defeats Joe Lauzon via unanimous decision

I’m going to go with the underdog on this one for two reasons. One being that Danzig (despite his last showing) is notoriously hard to put away and Lauzon has yet to have any success with a decision. The other reason being that Lauzon’s keys to success in this fight remain largely on the ground and it doesn’t appear that he will have the wrestling prowess to get the fight there against Danzig. And even if he does, Danzig’s grappling is capable enough to survive and even get back to his feet without being submitted immediately. Danzig should be able to out point Lauzon on the feet and use his calculation to earn a unanimous decision – but it really is up in the air and anything could happen with these two.