HOUSTON- Saturday, two local fighters faced underdog situations and performed for different results at UFC 136.
Joe Lauzon faced off against Melvin Guillard. Guillard stood in a position to move up from prospect to contender, but the savvy veteran stood in the way. Kenny Florian faced Jose Aldo for the Bantamweight –145 pound– belt. The cerebral challenger faced the most explosive champion ever to come into the B.C. graduate’s sights.
Though both fighters came to the octagon game, only one made a successful bid.
“I knew I had to attend to business tonight,” Joe Lauzon said, at the post-fight press conference. He described how he stayed in his hotel preparing mentally instead of going to the UFC fan expo.
Lauzon came into the ring a 3-to-1 underdog. He left after proving odds makers wrong.
When Melvin Guillard met him at the center of the cage, Lauzon stunned him with a few punches to the head. The favorite dropped to his hands and knees.
Upon seeing his opponents back, a less experienced fighter may have jumped straight in for the choke, or ground and pound –not Lauzon. The savvy veteran of 26 fights instead observed an old adage from BJJ: “position before submission.” Lauzon ran legs.
Since the uninitiated remain welcome and encouraged to read Blast Double, this requires explanation.
The phrase “ran legs” comes from wrestling. Simply put, a fighter takes the opponents back. Then, he “runs” his legs in between his opponent’s legs, after straddling the opponent’s hips. Hooking his own ankles around the inside of the knees, around the calves, or around the opponent’s ankles adds control.
From that point, Lauzon made a masterly display of control, patience, and position. Even though it happened relatively quickly, Lauzon displayed patience by diligently taking away Guillard’s ability to control his own position on the ground. Lauzon sank in a rear naked choke – a simple choke, secured by looping his arm around Guillard’s neck from behind—to finish.
Old ladies ‘tend’ to their gardens. Joe Lauzon ‘attended’ to his business against an explosive fighter many said he couldn’t likely defeat. He did it with cold professionalism, not the warmth sometimes shown by his demeanor. He took home a submission of the night bonus worth $75,000 for his work.
Kenny Florian walked into the cage with a harder night ahead.
One of Boston’s best fighters ever, Florian showed his improved wrestling in the first round. As the rounds went on, Florian attempted to use his wrestling, experience and timing to disrupt the speed of the champion.
As Aldo settled into the fight, he made good on a swell of combinations. The champion countered the remainder of Florian’s attempts to wrestle for position.
“I wasn’t successful on the wrestling end of it,” Florian said, at the press conference.
At times Florian kicked Aldo in the legs and inner thigh, turning a technique on the champion with which many expected Aldo undo Florian’s game plan and break him.
Ultimately the champion retained his explosive demeanor, but could not finish the stout-hearted challenger. Aldo took the unanimous decision as judges Douglas Crosby, Nelson Hamilton and Cecil Peoples scored the bout 49-46.
President of the UFC Dana White expressed his thought that Florian will have to make his decisions on whether or not to continue fighting.
“It was definitely a big night for Joe Lauzon in every way, shape and form,” White said of Lauzon.