Someone who had never attended a UFC event previously but had heard of all these fabulous exploits by Joe Lauzon in the Octagon would likely have left TD Garden in Boston on Saturday believing the world is full of liars.
Lauzon, one of the most exciting fighters in UFC history, laid a rare egg Saturday, getting battered and beaten over three brutal rounds by Michael Johnson in one of the featured matches on UFC Fight Night 26.
He was philosophical Monday when speaking about the defeat, and said there was no secret to what occurred in the cage.
"Michael Johnson happened," Lauzon said.
Johnson was more than a 2-to-1 underdog in the lightweight bout, but dominated the three-round bout from the start. Johnson won all three rounds on all three judges' scorecards, with Tony Weeks calling the first and third rounds a 10-8 in favor of Johnson to come up with a 30-25 score. Each of the other two judges scored it 30-27.
Lauzon, who remains tied with ex-middleweight champion Anderson Silva with most career UFC fight-night bonus awards with 12, said he was fully healthy and has no excuse other than that Johnson was the better man on that particular night.
"The plan going into the fight was to try to take away his jab," Lauzon told Yahoo! Sports. "If you try to take away his jab, you have to make him miss by a very narrow margin. Part of that is, you're going to get hit a little bit. We didn't do a very good job at that and that's where the whole plan started.
"Michael Johnson is very tough to take down. He's constantly moving around, he has great footwork and he moves great laterally, from side to side. He does a great job of not coming crazy forward, except when you're in a purely defensive state. I couldn't get going and he tagged me with some really good shots, and that was it."
To the uninitiated, it may have appeared that Lauzon wasn't even trying. Johnson was circling, darting in and out, and catching Lauzon with a series of sharp, accurate shots. Lauzon delivered little in return.
Lauzon is a submission expert and needed to get the fight to the ground, which he said he was desperately trying to do even if it didn't appear that way.
"It was 100 percent not my night," Lauzon said. "But I stand by everything I said [before the fight]: I had great sparring partners and I had a great training camp. I was feeling strong. I was feeling fast. I was feeling super confident and I wasn't looking past him, because I knew how super tough he would be. Just looking at myself, I felt I was in great shape and ready to go and he right off the bat took me out of my game. I never really got started and usually, I like to come out and be really aggressive.
"For this fight, it was the opposite a little bit. We wanted him to come forward and we wanted him to throw a little bit so we could close the distance on him. Some people think I wanted to have a boxing match or a kickboxing match or that it was me trying to show off my new improved stand-up."
Lauzon chuckled at the thought, because he knows the success he's had in the UFC is largely thanks to his submission game. He wanted to get himself into a position to work his submissions, but was unable to do so.
"That couldn't be the furthest thing from the truth," he said of those claiming he was trying to show off his stand-up game. "I was trying to get the fight to the ground. There were a couple of times I got in and got a body lock, and he did a great job of shaking away and getting away. I was trying to set things up, but he did a great job and I could never get things going."
Lauzon said Johnson's punches were draining him and as the fight went on, he didn't have the energy to try one final burst.
He said he was desperately trying to put himself into position for a dramatic comeback, but didn't have it in him on this night.
"He had a slight speed advantage on me when we started out at the beginning," Lauzon said. "If I couldn't catch him when I was at my best, and fresh, it got even worse when he was inflicting damage on me. He fought really smart. He beat me up a lot in the first and basically took the second and rested and kind of coasted a little bit. Then, he beat me up really good in the third. Give Michael credit: He fought a really, really smart fight.
"[UFC president] Dana [White] said it was one of the most lopsided beatings ever. I would have to agree. It was pretty bad. That was me at my worst, but I think you have to give credit to Michael, and I was so bad because he was at his best. I watched the fight three or four times [Sunday] and he just did a really, really good job."
Johnson set the standard for what Lauzon can expect in the future. He's now lost two in a row and three of his last four. He can probably expect most opponents to try to jab and use lateral movement to keep him on the outside.
That has often been the case, though most opponents haven't executed as well as Johnson.
But Lauzon is going to see a steady diet of that until he proves he can counter it. The key to his future will be proving he's able to do so.
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