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UFC 108 Exclusive: Following Knee Surgery Layoff, Joe Lauzon Looks to Pick Up Where He Left Off

By Elias Cepeda for CagePotato

Joe Lauzon (17-4) has held many roles throughout his 25 years — college student, 9-5er, web designer, coach, business owner — but above all else, he’s always been a fighter at heart. So when doctors told Joe he would have to sit out for at least a year after a surgery to repair a torn ACL, he took on the challenge the same way he approaches every endeavor — he trained for a fight.

“In training camp I’m absolutely miserable between doing all our rounds of sparring and cardio and I focused on my knee rehab the same way," explained the rising UFC lightweight, who has won five of his six official Octagon appearances.

"The place I did my rehab had a mix of people, young and old, and most just go through their exercises and don’t work up a sweat. I had to change my shirt just to drive home because I was soaking wet from pushing it. The place where I did my therapy was also in a gym so there were people there for other reasons than to rehab. My great physical therapist, Chris, pushed me and I progressed so fast that it got to the point where people were coming in thinking that I was in there for something else, like I was already in training camp for a fight, not knowing I had just had ACL reconstruction. I could have taken an easier approach to it but doing it that way really made a difference.”

It certainly appears that way. Based on what his doctors initially told him, Lauzon had planned for a March 2010 return to the cage, but he’s a few months ahead of schedule, fighting Sam Stout (15-5-1) Saturday night at UFC 108.

But it took more than hard work for Lauzon to return to action. The TUF 5 vet says that the most difficult part of his comeback was psychological. Before he could ace the physical therapy sessions, Lauzon first needed to heal, and that required him to be confined to bed for several months. Having to be totally dependent on others was a challenge, to say the least.

“Right after surgery, how much muscle I lost was sickening and it surprised me how tough basic things were to do. I was kind of depressed. I was planning on ‘09 being a huge year. I had the main event win against Jeremy Stephens off the bat and I wanted to fight a couple more times against some top tier guys and then it came crashing down. It was such a high to a low, lying there with a cowbell so I could get the attention of someone on the other side of the house when I needed help,” Lauzon says.

Hating that situation drove Lauzon to get well as soon as possible. “So I focused on that. I thought, ‘If I got dropped that fast, I’ve got to pick up the pace and get back to where I was.”

After healing and rehabbing, Lauzon was able to pick up boxing training, then Jiu Jitsu and lastly, wrestling. “Baby Joe’s” coaches had to rein him in, and at times it was touch-and-go with what his knee was actually capable of, but finally he had that moment where he knew he was 100% again.

“We were doing MMA training and wrestling against the fence and I hadn’t been shooting up to that point because of the knee. The drill was to stuff takedowns against the fence and my partner took me down with a single leg and I immediately popped back up on my bad knee like nothing,” he remembers.

“I stopped out of habit like, ‘whoah, whoah, whoah,’ expecting the knee would fall off but it was fine. I didn’t know if I had adrenaline or if it was actually ok. When he took me down I reacted and did exactly what I should have done. I reacted under stress. It was then that I kind of knew. If it was holding up to something like that, I was good to go.”

It might seem that wrestling would be Lauzon’s best weapon against Stout, a kickboxer at base, but don’t expect him to take that for granted on Saturday night. After all, Stout looked to be a much improved all-around fighter in his last fight, an exciting decision win over Matt Wiman in April.

“Sam’s tough. He’s got great kickboxing and his wrestling is improved,” Lauzon says.

“He used to be a fish out of water on the ground and his wrestling wasn’t very good but he’s one of these guys that are always working to improve. It’s a real tough fight. He is tough to take down. I think the wrestling is going to dictate the fight. If I get him to the ground it gives me an advantage. Same for him on the feet. My boxing has gotten better but I’m not going to go out there and try to box with him. I’m going to try and get him to the ground and finish him there.”

Cagepotato Comments

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Elias- January 1, 2010 at 12:46 pm
So you're suggesting that I begin to cut and paste quotes derived from interviews I did not conduct, blog style?

That's not what I'm paid to do. I'm paid to have exclusive conversations and get like exclusive quotes. Not from other sites, stories, press conferences, etc.

Good luck with your job security as well. Its a tough economy out there. I wish you the best. God bless
skeletor- January 1, 2010 at 12:30 pm
Hey Elias I'm glad you have the time to respond to your haters and the people who for some unknown reason actually enjoy your dry humorless boring writing style. But you really should be spending your time cutting and pasting more quotes from credible MMA journalists articles to ensure some level of job security here. Also check out the next article on CP people can't stop blasting you.
Elias- January 1, 2010 at 12:06 pm
@robthom its very good to be here, thanks!
831 Son- January 1, 2010 at 12:01 pm
Its really not that bad but it is totally the opposite of what CP is all about.
robthom- January 1, 2010 at 11:12 am
Elias is a pro and has been for a long time.

Unfortunately Joe Lauzon and his knee surgery just isn't the most fascinating of topics to keep antsy pantses attentions for very long reads.

It is what it is, but its nice to see Mr.Cepeda around here IMO.
831 Son- January 1, 2010 at 11:08 am
Not trying to be a dick necessarily, but yea, your writing is extremely boring. Too many quotes too. Anyone can do that shit. There is absolutely no character in your writing. Its bland and gay and you need to do something about it.
Elias- January 1, 2010 at 10:38 am
squirrel, I'm more than happy to put cock fixations aside, hopefully my superiors and would be writing tutors also posting on here will as well, or at least just leave them out of their posts.

itsgalf, thanks bro, lol:) I'll try not to get discouraged. Maybe someday in the future if I'm really lucky I will be able to look back and see that I was able to have had years and years of getting paid well to cover fight sports full time for the best online and print publications in the world. *sighs* Maybe some day. Oh wait...;)

Thanks for reading and all the comments, and a very happy new yea, Brosefs!

Get Off Me- January 1, 2010 at 9:36 am
@hulk smash
Well played.

itsgalf- January 1, 2010 at 8:45 am
Don't get discouraged. Sure, I only read about 3 paragraphs and then skipped the rest, but at least you're trying. Just keep writing and developing your style.
Squirrelnuts- January 1, 2010 at 7:46 am
cock fixations aside, they're right. I'd rather read VCR instructions than another article like that.
Elias- January 1, 2010 at 7:11 am
"...sucking a fat dick..."
"...dick had to suck..."

Wow, Skel and Cheet really have dick on the mind.

Good luck with that, boys
Hulk Smash- December 31, 2009 at 3:57 pm
i sure hope this sir hal character is not caps lock hal. or, should i say, caps lock douche. i'd rather listen to tito ortiz do a fight commentary/post fight interview than go through that dude's posts.
NinJay- December 31, 2009 at 2:39 pm
Skeletor's first two posts made me lol. I was like "daaaaamn, thats rough". Article was boring as all hell though. I didn't graduate with a major in journalism but I'm pretty sure I can write a better article and save everyone a couple minutes of there lives.

Joe Lauzon Back After Surgery

He had a long road to recovery where he had to rely on the help of family and friends. Determined to get back into action as soon as possible he made the recover sooner than expected. He fights Sam Stout at UFC 108.

Elias Cepeda

Told You!

Not to give a troll any sort of attention in fears of adding fuel to his piss fire but is this the same Hal as the old Caps Lock Hal? At least Caps Lock amused me with his all caps typing.
ProfessorMMA- December 31, 2009 at 2:24 pm
aww sick dawg, slampage is back!
skeletor- December 31, 2009 at 2:20 pm
What's up Chewy1979 welcome to CP. Sorry to you Cheeto I didn't know you were hispanic or love hispanics. I was only talking about him in terms of Elian Gonzales.
chewy1979- December 31, 2009 at 2:02 pm
Guess who's here for the first time, yep you guessed right, chewy1979. Just wanted to send a shout out to everyone who doesn't know who the fuck I am.
MyFightWiffaCheeto- December 31, 2009 at 2:02 pm

Lighten up on the kid. If it makes him feel good to write an article without any of CP's brevity or wit so be it.

I still read 'em and appreciate the effort. I'd like to know which Ben's dick he sucked to get to write for the site.

Also, quit hating on hispanics seeing as how you're a fucking green skeleton trying to murder a homosexual, tiger-riding prince I don't believe you have any room to criticize.
Slampage- December 31, 2009 at 2:01 pm
That's correct, Slampage is back!

I know you missed me.
skeletor- December 31, 2009 at 1:19 pm
I don't know who's worse Elias for writing boring articles or Sabado Gigante for making him believe people enjoy reading them.

Also Sir hal, we all know you're a troll so stop trying so hard, your more intelligent counterpart C Sample has already faded away after his "long anticipated" return. He went the non humorous troll route and failed miserably. I know your biggest accomplishment in life is thinking your some sort of a celebrity on an MMA forum so i hope you don't try to kill yourself when you find out otherwise. Or go ahead and kill yourself, it won't matter.
SIR HAL- December 31, 2009 at 1:08 pm
guess who's back everybody. yep you guessed it right on the money. SIR HAL is in the house. i've really missed all my cage potato peeps. its been a long time since i've been logged in but i'm back now, and ready to talk some MMA. now, i can't wait to see joe back in action. he is always entertaining, and 95% of the time puts on a pretty good show. now back to the important fighters. i hear junie browning is coming back to the ufc soon, and he's more pissed then ever before. dana fucked up when he fired him because he has lost so much money when he did. junie was the main draw cause lets face it, he is the best pound for pound, and most well rounded fighter in ufc history. he is a mini brock lesnar. i don't know why everyone hates that kid so much. i say we get a petition started, and get him voted back in the ufc asap. what do you say people. lets get junie back where he belongs.
Sabado Gigante- December 31, 2009 at 12:45 pm
So the guy has a more traditional approach... So sue him... I come to CP for MMA news and to laugh. Elias doesn't make me laugh because he isn't trying to be funny. He does, however, put together some interesting pieces worth reading imo. I welcome any of Elias' stories as long as they maintain relevence.

On a seperate note, is it just me or does 98% of the articles on MMAMania end with a question???

Happy New Years fellas... Be safe and try not to fire your oozies into the sky while driving down the highway... That shits dangerous
ProfessorMMA- December 31, 2009 at 12:30 pm
^^^ lol fucking ruthless

i actually look forward to Elias's articles, just to see your response.
skeletor- December 31, 2009 at 12:07 pm
Also how is your life in Cuba going after that whole ordeal down in Miami?
skeletor- December 31, 2009 at 12:06 pm
Elias it never seems to amaze how boring you can be. On your next article see if you can write the whole entire thing out of quotes cut and pasted from other articles. So other then completely sucking a fat dick and writing the most boring articles on CP, you're doing a great job.