Joe Lauzon, who takes on Jeremy Stephens at UFC Fight Night 17, is now in Tampa preparing for his main event fight with Hermes Franca's replacement.
Rather than try and stand and trade for three rounds, I expect Lauzon to get the take down and spend time punishing Stephens on the ground. And now that he doesn't have to worry about facing Franca on the ground, he should be able to open up a bit more with his ground and pound.
Lauzon also admits his game plan has changed now that he's fighting Stephens:
“With Hermes I would have to take him down because he has great defense and he’s real good on his feet. You don’t want to get caught with anything. So the plan would be to take him down. Once you take him down, then you have to deal with a black belt in jiu-jitsu. I just think that once you take him down Stephens isn’t the same caliber as Hermes. I’m sure he’s very good. I’m not knocking him at all. I just think it’s a different kind of fight.”
Regardless of the outcome of the fight -- which I believe will be a Lauzon victory by TKO in R2 -- I definitely want to see Lauzon and Franca fight at some point in the future. They both want to fight one another, and now that they've spent the past week or two arguing with one another on Internet MMA forums, they've inadvertently hyped up a future fight.
This is Lauzon's second main event fight, with his first time in the spotlight against Kenny Florian at UFC Fight Night 13 last April. Many MMA fans, even while rooting for Lauzon, understood that Florian -- the No. 1 contender for the lightweight title -- would be too much for Lauzon.
“I’ll fight who they want me to fight, whatever the UFC thinks,” said Lauzon. “I thought the Kenny fight was a little too early, but they wanted it and we did it. I wasn’t going to say, ‘I’m not going to fight him.’ Maybe I was right and it was too early. But I’ll do whatever they want me to do and I’m ready to do whatever. I think no matter who I’ll fight it’ll be a competitive fight. Maybe I won’t win them all, but whoever I go and fight it’s going to be a good fight.”