UFC lightweights Joe Lauzon (21-7) and Terry Etim are star-crossed opponents. Twice they've signed contracts to fight each other and twice Etim has suffered injuries, forcing him to pull out.
They were scheduled to face off on August 4th at the UFC on Fox card in Los Angeles up until two weeks ago when Lauzon got the call from UFC matchmaker that Etim was out and that he'd have to face someone different, with scant time to prepare for a new foe.
"A couple of weeks ago, I had just finished up a boxing workout," Lauzon tells Yahoo! "Everything was coming along real nice, it was actually the best training session we'd had all camp to that point. Then I check my phone and I see a missed call from Joe Silva and thought, '[expletive].' I knew. I wasn't really surprised. It is just bad luck. Injuries happen; it's just unfortunate that it has happened twice in a row, now."
Etim cannot fight but Lauzon goes on, now facing former WEC champion and resurgent UFC star Jamie Varner (20-6-1). Despite being out of the big leagues for some time, Varner made his return to the UFC in May, beating previously undefeated Edson Barboza by shocking TKO.
Lauzon says he's happy to be fighting Varner. Paradoxically, Joe says that Varner is an easier opponent to prepare for than Etim, though he expects the fight itself to be more difficult than it would have been against the Brit.
"Varner is a little shorter than me, and a straight boxer and wrestler. It is much easier for me to have better training partners to prepare for him than for Etim, who is long, rangy, and an awkward striker. It was hard to find guys to spar the same way as him, all herky jerky. But I have a bunch of guys at my gym who are 5'9, 5'10 and are good wrestlers and good boxers," Lauzon says.
Lauzon says that Varner is a "hot and cold," fighter but is expecting a very good Varner on August 4th. "I think it's a tougher fight [than fighting Etim] even if its an easier fight to prepare for," he says.
"Varner is a higher ranked guy, the former WEC champ and Barbosa is a huge name to have a win over. Varner had a huge win where he stepped in on short notice. I don't want him to make another name off of me."
Even though Lauzon says he feels like he's "wasted time" studying hours of film on Etim now that he has to face Varner, the Massachusetts native believes his having trained for the past few months knowing he had a fight coming up will give him a leg up on Varner. "I'm going to take advantage of having put in a full camp," he says.
"It's been a good three month camp and I'm happy about that."
Elias Cepeda has covered boxing and MMA since 2005 and is a voting member of the Yahoo! Sports MMA Pound for Pound Rankings panel. Follow Elias on twitter @EliasCepeda
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- Terry Etim
- Jamie Varner
- Joe Lauzon