UFC on FOX 9 Preview: Joe Lauzon vs. Mac Danzig

With Matt Brown bowing out of his fight with Carlos Condit thanks to a few herniated discs in his back, and Condit deciding to wait until Brown healed up rather than face an ultra short notice opponent, UFC on FOX 9 needed a fight to be moved up to the main card. Joe Lauzon vs. Mac Danzig got the nod, a little surprisingly over the two fights ahead of it on the undercard. Regardless of that, these two will now face off on the main card portion of the event.

Fighter Summary

Mac Danzig (21-11 overall, 5-7 UFC)

Strengths: Toughness, well-rounded, submissions

Weaknesses: Perpetually stuck in mediocrity

Joe Lauzon (22-9 overall, 9-6 UFC)

Strengths: Jiu jitsu

Weaknesses: Striking, wrestling

Fight Breakdown – This one could really go anywhere at anytime. These two guys are scrappy and while both might prefer to be in control in the clinch or rolling on the mat, they’re also not afraid to try their hand (literally) in the stand up game.

What makes this match-up so intriguing is that we could see this fight ending with a quick KO or submission finish early in the first round, or going the distance in a wild, stand-up and grappling filled back and forth exchange. If you had to pick a guy to have the advantage in most areas of the fight, it would be Lauzon. He’s not like a Melvin Guillard or Anthony Pettis in terms of his KO power, but he can take a punch and isn’t afraid to mix things up on the feet. Danzig is right up there with him in terms of toughness and capability, but again, if push comes to shove, Lauzon is probably slightly better in terms of pure striking.

Every fight starts off on the feet, so look for Lauzon to establish some sort of consistent jab or leg kick. Danzig may find some success with counters, but he may be a tad bit slow to keep up with Lauzon and catch him before he moves out of harm’s way. That will leave it up to Danzig to do something to balance the fight out and it will involve some form of wrestling or takedowns.

Lauzon is an excellent submission fighter, whether from guard or top position, so he won’t have to worry about being taken down or taking this fight to the ground as much as Danzig will. Danzig is also good on the ground, but he’s not quite at Lauzon’s level. J-Lau has submitted a lot of guys during his UFC career and his skill on the ground is nothing to take lightly. So Lauzon can take a few more risks in the stand-up, since he will have a slight advantage on the ground. If that’s the case, it will also give him a slight advantage in the stand-up, since he can leave an opening or two that most guys would try to avoid against strong wrestlers or grapplers.

Danzig has to have the perfect amount of aggression. He can’t lose his cool and just keep charging in without any setups or feints. Lauzon is good enough to make him pay for that. But Danzig can’t just keep his distance all night and turn it into a boxing match either. He’s got to push just the right amount and look to catch Lauzon off guard, who is certainly vulnerable to various strikes. Utilizing a variety of kicks would do a lot to keep Lauzon guessing as to what’s coming and Danzig has to make it a point to be the more active fighter in every round to really stand a chance.

If we don’t see a quick KO or sub ending in this one, it’s very likely to go the distance. There’s going to be a lot of clinching, jockeying for position, dirty boxing and take downs and ground scrambles. With the potential for how hectic this fight can get, it will be important for each guy to stick to the script.

Key to Victory: Who can execute their game plan?

This sounds pretty straightforward on paper, but when both guys are tired and hurt, worn down, sweaty and exhausted and the fight is still up for grabs (which is probably what we’re going to see), it’s going to get messy and game planning may very well go out the window. Whoever can keep their mental discipline and stick to whatever was working for them throughout the fight is very likely going to win. Danzig and Lauzon are “in your face” type of fighters and when you throw in their recent losses, it makes the pot even more combustible. If one guy finds success with something consistently, be it take downs, leg kicks, jabs, or whatever, he has to base his attacks around that focal point and not lose track of what was working. That’s going to be easier said than done though because this one has down and dirty slugfest written all over it.

Why It Matters – This is looking like a “fight for your job” kind of match at this point. Back to back losses for both guys. Not the most impressive records in the UFC, especially for Mac Danzig, a former TUF winner. You’d have to wonder where the loser of this fight would go. They’ve both lost to fighters with more potential than them in Melvin Guillard and Michael Johnson. Danzig has already had a three fight losing streak in the UFC. Losing to Lauzon would make his second. Lauzon, meanwhile, would be on his first three fight skid and if you look at other guys in similar spots who have gone on three fight skids at this point in their career, well, a good number of them are fighting under different banners now.

We’re not talking about title contenders here, or shots at the title or cracking the top ten. We’re talking about two guys fighting to potentially keep their jobs. No one wants to lose once, let alone three times in a row. It’s almost unsaid that the loser walks, so you can bet both guys are going to come out on a mission, with a fire lit under them. Unfortunately for Danzig, wherever this fight goes, Lauzon is probably a bit more polished and decisive in what he wants to do and that’s going to be the deciding factor.

Prediction – Lauzon

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