Lightweight matchups rarely disappoint and this one is certainly no different. Both guys are coming off of impressive victories that seemed like incredible uphill battles beforehand. And now here they are, ready to avoid falling lower on a steep lightweight totem pole.
The Match Up
Lightweight Joe Lauzon +165 vs. Al Iaquinta -190
3 Things You Should Know
1. Lauzon is the nerdy, whiter version of Tibau; a UFC fighter who has shark blood flowing through his veins, not needing to evolve much despite what will be his 18th UFC bout.
Of all the fighters who I thought might have a limited shelf life, Lauzon would have been a good candidate. Yes, he was talented, but when he lost to Manny Gamburyan on TUF, his ceiling seemed limited. Joe is an offensively gifted fighter, but fights that way because he isn't effective otherwise; sooner or later the chamber will be empty.
He's the Ultimate Gatekeeper; a title that would seem insulting for so many. And yet, it's anything but; it displays the longevity and high cunning required to survive so long in a division that seems to get progressively better and more dangerous. Beating Michael Chiesa is such a good example of where he's even able to rise above expectations; outsized, and seemingly outgunned, Lauzon kept his cool until eventually opening up a brutal cut on Chiesa's face.
2. Iaquinta is another TUFer turned UFC veteran; difference being he's got that Serra-Longo Fight Team voodoo that seems to protect him in striking battles.
I don't know that anyone ever really pegged Al for a lengthy UFC career, but he was never a longshot. He defeated Jon Tuck, Myles Jury, and Andy Ogle to get his shot at the TUF crown; a list of opponents that was strong even then. He's never brought too much attention to himself, only stumbling once after TUF to Mitch Clarke, but he's trending up, and beating Lauzon could be the token statement win.
3. The odds are accurate, just like the offense of both fighters; expect either the expected (a brawl), or the calculated (a conflict of technique).
One of the things that sometimes happens in these Joe Rogan exclamation littered bouts about a "WAAARRR!" is that the fighters' offense can make the other gunshy. Henderson vs. Cerrone III was a good example, with lots of fans and observers feeling let down.
I actually enjoyed that bout; I felt like both guys were slowly building on the offense they created until they could unleash something more violent, but both men were too talented to fall victim to something obvious. I'm hoping we get something more like Tumenov vs. Musoke; two equally matched fighters with one athlete willing to bleed for his opportunities.
I lean towards Iaquinta in this bout because I think his power can become a factor. Unlike someone like Sam Sicilia, Iaquinta works a lot of angles and movement. His power comes from his accuracy, and we've seen Lauzon struggle with varied, technical striking before. Michael Johnson and Jim Miller were both able to hammer Lauzon with precision, and variety.
Lauzon has never been a real efficient boxer to begin with; he's good at pressuring guys with strikes, and finding efficiency within that, but his real efficiency comes from scrambling on the ground where he's prone to all sorts of tricks. He'll always have a special place in my heart for pulling off a firemen's carry against Jeremy Stephens. However, I can't help but find this one predictable; Iaquinta stuffing Joe's takedowns, strafing him with kicks, elbows, and a vicious right hand.
Al Iaquinta by TKO, round 3.