When Dan Lauzon steps into the Octagon at UFC 114 on May 29th — where he’s scheduled to face TUF 8 winner Efrain Escudero — he will do so without three longtime coaches in his corner. Due to a dispute over Dan’s commitment to training, his brother Joe as well as his trainers Joe Pomfret and Steve Maze will not be traveling to the fight in Las Vegas from their home base in Bridgewater. As the story goes, Dan was given an ultimatum a month ago to shape up and start training 10-11 times per week; when he didn’t, his team broke ties with him. Dan first went public with the story earlier this week, telling the Boston Herald:
Joe Pomfret is somebody I look at like a father, and he is going to do this to me? You’re going to tell me you can’t (work my corner) and you’re sending me out to Vegas alone for one of my biggest fights? I was completely hurt by it, especially my brother Joe. I don’t think anybody would ever do that to their brother. I can’t think of anyone else that would ever do that to their brother and just tell them, ‘Hey, you’re on your own.’”
Dan will finish his training at Lauzon MMA, but vows to move elsewhere after the fight. For UFC 114, he has recruited WEC featherweight standout Josh Grispi, TUF 7 vet John Clarke, and training partner Brandon Chase to corner him in Vegas.
Of course, J-Lau has his own side of the story. To explain why he turned his back on his brother before a potential "win or get screwed" fight in the UFC, Joe posted a blog entry titled "So Frustrating" on JoeLauzon.com. Some highlights:
Dealing with family can be really tough sometimes. When you mix business and family… it’s an absolute nightmare. You make a tough decision and its cold. You go easy on someone and they are only treated that way because they are family. I am usually tough on Dan, but it’s because I love him and want what’s best for him. I know that me being easy on him in training is not going to help him when there is someone across the cage from him trying with everything they have to hurt him.
I always push Dan hard when it comes to training. In my eyes, and in the eyes of our coaches, Dan has never put in an honest training camp. He has strung together 3 or 4 good weeks here and there… but never anything any longer. It’s always him rushing at the end to cram a 12 weeks camp into 3. Then injuries and other things pop up and it doesn’t go so well. When he was fighting locally, he would get away with it. At the UFC level, that just doesn’t cut it.
With Dan, it’s always “something”. You have never seen someone that has no job because they are a “full-time fighter” that trains less. There is a list a mile long of things he has to do… but training is usually way down the list. If it’s not that he is too busy… it’s him getting a new tattoo in the middle of training camp… which either doesn’t let him train or greatly limits what he can do. This has happened for nearly half a dozen fights in a row now.
As coaches, we noticed the pattern right away and tried everything to change it. We would try and stay on his ass about training and that didn’t work. We would try positive reinforcement and that didn’t work. I tried to get him to come out to Hawaii with me for 3 weeks to train with BJ Penn and that didn’t work.
When Dan was 14 to 17, he trained like a mad man. He was in the gym all the time, but he is 22 now and that fire he once had is long gone. When he is in the gym, he comes in and works hard. He does a great job helping guys with technical things and teaching more subtle things as well. Unfortunately, he is never in the gym. If he has a fight, he is in sparingly. If he doesn’t have a fight he is an absolute ghost.
Dan was training at our place 3 or 4 times a week… and 2 or 3 of those times were boxing and the other was MMA. He would say he was going to other schools to train too, but the stories didn’t always check out. He would say “oh, I went to so and so last night and had great work with so and so”. I would double check and they would tell me “I was there all night and Dan definitely” wasn’t there. We would confront Dan on it and he would confess and say “okay, I didn’t train but I didn’t want you on my ass about it”. Other times he would actually go, but wouldn’t go and train hard. He would just go and roll around and take it easy. There are times to go and train hard and times to take it easy. Dan was blowing off hard nights at our place for easy nights at another places. It wasn’t that there weren’t good guys there… there definitely were… he just wasn’t pushing himself. I have amateur fighters that train way more than Danny.
Now we gave Dan an ultimatum. Joe Pomfret, Steve Maze and I knew we all had to act a single unit. This was all or nothing and we all used the same language and tone with him so there was no misunderstanding. We were very clear that if he failed to train 10 or 11 times a week, we were not going to corner for him. It’s not fair that we all make time for him in Vegas when he can’t do his job beforehand and train. This all happened maybe 10 or so weeks out from the fights. We were clear and beat the point into the ground so there was no misunderstanding…Well… weeks went by and Dan has upped his training a little bit… but I would say on his best week he was training around 6 times a week… but he averaged closer to 4 times a week. I don’t think he hit 10 times once in any given week. I don’t think he even hit 8. This was better than he had been doing prior… but definitely not fulfilling what we had said we needed. Therefore, in all of our eyes, we were not going to corner for him.
We never wanted to hurt Dan and we all want him to win. We had to take a such a tough stand though because he refused to change. We had exhausted every other option and this was the only thing left for us to try. This has been the most frustrating task of my life… because you can’t help someone that won’t help themselves. When you run around town telling people you are a professional fighter in the UFC… you have to train like one. I had really hoped Dan would see the situation for what it was… but it’s all twisted and he just has a delusional view of things.
I didn’t want to come out with this at all. I wanted it to be quiet and was hoping Dan would win the fight and see the mistakes and get back on track. To be honest though, I am a little relieved. I am so sick of lying to people when they ask how Dan’s training is going. All I could say was “Dan is doing good… he is training hard”. I should have been saying “I don’t know… I never see him in the gym”. I wish none of this even came out… but it did and I am disgusted by him dragging all of our names through the mud. I have bent over backwards for Dan and opened so many doors and helped him out so many times. Joe Pomfret has treated Dan like his own son and no one has done more for Danny that that guy… and Danny acts like this. It’s all pretty disappointing… but thats how it goes. I wouldn’t put up with any of this with anyone else at my gym, and I am no longer putting up with it with Dan.
So what do you think? Was Joe right to get tough with his brother, or should he have supported Dan no matter what?