Judging by his feud with Hermes Franca on the UG, Joe Lauzon is a nice enough guy until you say something about his brother. That’s a line you probably shouldn’t cross with him apparently, and once you do you’ve made yourself an instant enemy.
In our exclusive interview Lauzon talks about how the bad blood erupted on the UG, just how pissed off he really was, and what he thinks of Jeremy Stephens’ plan to break his will at UFC Fight Night 17 this Saturday.
CagePotato.com: So how serious was this beef with Hermes Franca?
It was serious on my end. I take it personally when he comes at my brother like that. Basically, he hurt his knee and couldn’t fight, so I said how sorry I was to hear it, hope he heals up, best of luck, all that, and maybe we can fight somewhere down the line.
And then he starts calling me “the luckiest motherfucker alive,” saying that after he saw how much my brother sucks he couldn’t wait to fight me, stuff that’s just completely uncalled for. I’m saying, ‘sorry to hear about your knee,’ and he’s saying, ‘you suck.’ That’s just complete trash.
Do you think he might have been joking, like a lot of people suggested?
I don’t think so. He called me the luckiest motherfucker alive. I just ignored that, whatever. I signed my post Joe “The Luckiest Motherfucker Alive” Lauzon, and let it go. I didn’t say anything after that. Totally let it go. Then he comes back talking about how much my brother sucks, and it wasn’t a joking kind of thing. If you’re joking, you don’t say stuff about someone’s family like that, just so direct. That’s just not something you do.
Why would he say your brother sucks when he won his fight in the first round at Affliction?
I have no idea. My brother was catching all kinds of crap after that fight. Basically, he gets fouled three times and still ends the fight in the first round. I’ve never seen someone take so much crap for a fight where they won after getting fouled three times.
Jeremy Stephens said he didn’t like the way you were talking about Hermes on the UG and it made him want to step in there even more and beat you because of it.
I don’t know where he gets that. I can understand wanting to step in for your teammate, but I’m not the one who started this whole thing. And I’m sure he knew about the fight between me and Hermes being off before this. He was training with him and Hermes hurt his knee the week before and had an MRI on it before it came out that he was out of the fight, so I’m sure [Stephens] had a lot more notice on it than I did.
What do you know about Stephens?
He’s an aggressive fighter, he goes for the finish, and he has pretty good jiu-jitsu. Very good hands.
Will you look to get it to the mat or are you going to stand and strike with him?
I’m probably not going to stand with him too much. I’m not going to rush it, but I’m also not going to hang in there on my feet the whole time.
He says your TKO losses prove that your will can be broken and he thinks that’s how he’ll beat you, by breaking your will.
You know, there’s an awesome Cus D’Amato quote about how a fight is a test of will more than a test of skill, provided that the difference in skill isn’t so great that the will not be tested. In other words, he’s not going to have a chance to test my will. I think the fight’s going to be over pretty quick. I’m going to rough him up, beat him up, and it’s not going to be some long drawn out battle. I’m going to go at him and take him out quick.
You seemed to be on a fast rise through the ranks before your loss to Kenny Florian set you back. Where do you see yourself in the UFC’s lightweight division now?
The setback after fighting Kenny, I think, really wasn’t that much of a setback. If you’re fighting a guy ranked higher than you and you lose, I don’t think you fall that much. If you lose to a guy you’re supposed to be better than, then I think you fall a good amount. I don’t think it was a huge setback. It definitely halted my momentum a little bit.
What do you think went wrong in that fight?
I think a lot of things went wrong in that fight. I didn’t handle the altitude very well. I let my nerves get the best of me. I think I definitely wasn’t helped out by the ref. When I got a takedown and got fouled, I lost my takedown. But really, a lot of things went wrong. It just wasn’t my night.
So you were especially nervous for that fight, and that affected you?
Honestly, that was the only time I’ve ever been nervous before a fight. Even when I first started, I never got nervous, and I don’t get nervous now. I know that I trained hard and that I’m prepared, so I don’t get nervous. If you do everything you can and lose to a guy because he’s just better than you, there’s no shame in it. If you lose to a guy you could have beaten because you just didn’t do enough to prepare, that’s when you should be nervous. I felt like I was fully prepared, but I had everyone from Dana White to the cameramen asking me if I was nervous, and I think I let it get the best of me.
People asking you if you were nervous actually made you nervous?
That’s exactly what it was. I wasn’t nervous at all, but then everyone was coming up to me saying, ‘Aren’t you nervous? I’d be so nervous.’ So I started to think, shit, should I be nervous? But what can I do. I prepared properly and he just beat me. That’s something I can live with. It’s not like I just didn’t do what I needed to do in training.
I take it you and your brother are very close. What’s it like to train together?
Training with my brother is the only time I can be grappling and a knee gets thrown, on purpose. There can be bloodshed pretty easily with us. It’s stuff like that. A sibling rivalry can be good when it’s focused properly. With us, sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. It’s definitely an advantage, though. You never want to lose to your brother, so you have a fight on your hands every day.
Was that how it was for you guys growing up?
Kind of. I started training at 17, and Dan was 14. Up until then we really didn’t get into too many fights. We had a trampoline, and Danny would be the wrestling dummy. We’d powerbomb him, choke-slam him, try to break him in half. He’d run away and we’d just go get him and carry him back to the trampoline. It wasn’t really mean-spirited, just kids messing around, being kids.
Why do you think you both became professional fighters?
I think we’re both just super competitive. I got into it because a couple of my friends started doing it and I thought, ‘Oh, I could do that.’ Danny is the same way. He sees me doing something and thinks, ‘I can do that.’ We’re very much the same in that way, but opposites in others.
Is it stressful for you to watch him fight?
Oh, yeah. Way more stressful than my fights. I was never nervous for one of my own fights before the Kenny Florian thing, but I’ve been nervous for every one of his fights. I can be sure he’s going to crush the guy, but I still get nervous because once the fight starts there’s nothing I can do to help him. I just have to watch.
Thanks for talking with me, Joe. Anything else you want to add?