Being a mixed martial arts fighter is a tough gig. The physical wear and tear breaks a healthy body down quickly, the pressure to perform at the highest level is intense, and if you want to make money, you've got to be on one of the rosters of a small handful of organizations that can actually pay a decent fight purse and afford the athlete the exposure and fame that they strive for. Despite these hurdles, many young men and women flock to MMA for their chosen career path.
Seven and a half years ago, Dan Lauzon began his journey into professional MMA. He had been training since he was 14 years old, and was the youngest athlete ever to appear in the UFC. He was 18 at the time, and although he didn't win against a seasoned veteran in Spencer Fisher, he would go on to amass a very respectable 17-4 record. He is currently on a five fight win streak, not having recorded a loss in 3.5 years.
Dan has experienced several ups and downs, made more public due to the exposure from being UFC lightweight star, Joe Lauzon's younger brother. He's had two stints in the UFC, been stabbed on the street after leaving a bar, and had a very public falling out with his brother. There were many who thought he'd lost his way, but over the last couple years, he's proved those people wrong, mended fences with his brother, and dedicated himself to being a beacon of maturity.
This Saturday, Lauzon will be facing off against World Series of Fighting standout, Justin Gaethje, who is boasting a 9-0 record. In a recent MMA Sentinel interview, he discussed how he and his brother worked out their differences after not speaking for almost two years, his other full time job as a repo man and what he wants for his career future. Here's what he had to say:
Maturity and Focus
In the past I wasn't very focused. When I first got started as a pro, I was only 18 and running around a little bit crazy. These past couple years I've tried to settle down and stay focused. I want to get better, so now I go to the gym every day, and I work at night. I'm just working and training, working and training. It sounds boring, but I'm trying to stay as focused as possible, and keep my eye on the prize.
I think my experience will pull me through on this fight. He's a good wrestler; undefeated and really aggressive. He's not the most technical guy. He's just so aggressive and keeps coming forward. I expect it to be a really scrappy fight.
They give me good fights, and as long as they keep doing that, I'm happy and content with them. I'm just trying to move up and progress. I want to get better and get more experience under me. They're a new show, growing all the time. I'm more than happy to grow with them.
Their production value is top notch. Obviously it's much better than any local, regional show. I'd say that it's right up there with the UFC. My last fight was in June and they took great care of me while I was there. It was actually a little more laid back than the UFC. I think I enjoy this atmosphere more.
They don't really matter to me. I feel like I could not fight for three years and I would come in there like I'd never left. I always show up ready to fight. I'm in the gym, sparring all the time. I've been doing this a long time. I know how to fight [laughs]. You don't really forget how to punch somebody in the face.
I work nights repo'ing cars. I go out and repo cars for banks that hold the notes on them. I do it with a buddy of mine that I grew up with. It's a respectable company, and I ended up getting my foot in the door with them, and I go out Sunday night through Thursday night, from 10 at night to 6 or 7 in the morning. Basically, it's the legal stealing of cars [laughs].
I've been working this job for a little over a year now, and I really hadn't run into a whole lot of problems with anyone for like the first six or seven months, but over the last eight or nine months, there's been a couple incidents. Nothing crazy or physical; nothing like that at all, but when you're at someone's house at 3 am and you're taking their car, people come out upset and wanting to know what's happening.
Once we explain it, usually they calm down. Over the last two months, we've had a couple people come out with a pistol or a shotgun, but again, once we explained the situation, they calm down. It hasn't really been too crazy. There's been a couple times when we've had the car up in the air, either the back end or the front end, and people have jumped in and tried to take off [laughs].
We did have a car that was up on the lift but we hadn't gotten it strapped down yet, and the guy jumps in and drives it right off the back, slams it into the road and drove off. He did tons of damage to his car, but he did get away. We ended up getting his car like two weeks later, though [laughs]. If they refuse to get out of the car, there's not much we can do other than call the police. They'll show up and make them get out of the car. If they refuse, the cops will just rip them right out of the car, and that's happened. We had another guy who jumped up on the lift after we had it locked down. He couldn't go anywhere, so he was just spinning the tires.
We repo like four or five cars a night and one out of every five will try to bribe us to not take their car. I think the most we ever got in one night was 13, and that was a long night. Every night someone is like, ‘Here, let me give you $100 to leave my car alone' but it's not even worth it. We had a kid that was doing repos for the company and he was taking bribes and going back and telling our boss that five dudes came out and threatened him so he left the car. The bank ended up talking to the car owner who had taken video of the kid taking the money to leave the car. That kid got fired quick.
People always try to hide their cars or block them in, too. People will try all sorts of things. They'll put a different license plate on the car at night. They'll block or cover the vin number; they'll even try to scratch it off. They do all sorts of shit; hiding the car at their neighbor's house or behind their own house.
Me and Joe were real close when we were younger, then we kind of grew apart for a few years. At one point, we didn't talk for close to two years. Literally, we didn't speak a word to each other. If I was somewhere that he was, I just didn't go near him and he didn't go near me.
There was a solid two years where we didn't train together at all. No grappling, jiu-jitsu, stand-up...nothing. That period is behind us, and going through that has actually brought us closer now. At the time, it was pretty tough, but it was pretty much him being stubborn or me being stubborn or both. We didn't see eye to eye, and he didn't understand what was going on in my life and I didn't try to let him in or be a part of my life. A lot of it came down to me being immature and him not being able to understand it.
Over the past year and a half, we've gotten a lot closer. It's good. Now we train together, and we're grappling all the time. We box and do stand-up together again. We meet two or three times a week, just me and him, just the two of us, and we just train together. We've gotten a lot closer these days. It happens with families all over. We're gonna butt heads here and there. With us both fighting professionally on such high profile stages, it's gonna come to light and people are gonna see it.
We've gotten though a really rough patch in our lives, and now everything is just really good. I've grown up a lot over the last few years, so that helped a lot. Now we see eye to eye more, and we're actually able to sit down and just be brothers and be there for each other.
You can follow Dan via his Twitter account, @DJ_Lauzon