HOUSTON -- Like the rest of the guys preparing to fight Saturday night at UFC 136, Joe Lauzon has been cooped up in his hotel room a lot this week.
The rooms at the downtown Houston Hilton -- where the UFC has descended en masse prior to this weekend’s show across the street at Toyota Center -- are nice enough, but spend a few days in one trying to cut weight and keep your head on straight and it’s easy to image that you quickly run short on entertainment options.
There are 39 free channels on the TV, a complimentary newspaper left outside your door in the morning and, if you feel like shelling out a small fee, there’s the Internet.
That last one is probably how Lauzon found out about the things Melvin Guillard has been saying about him leading up to their lightweight bout on Saturday.
“I’ve seen a lot more interviews with him over the last couple of days,” Lauzon says. “It doesn’t bother me. I really wasn’t paying attention at all until now; I’m sitting in the hotel room, so I’m looking and seeing what he’s saying a little bit more. But whatever -- I’m not sweating it.”
What Guillard is saying -- or at least what he said to the media on Wednesday during UFC 136’s open workouts -- is that Lauzon will only present problems for him if Guillard allows it; that Lauzon is too small to fight in the 155-pound division and that after he beats Lauzon on Saturday, people might want to start calling him “the jiu-jitsu killer” because of all the great BJJ guys he’s defeated recently.
Of course, Guillard is also saying other things. He gives respect to Lauzon for “even taking the fight,” while admitting to reporters that Lauzon is “tough” and “crafty” and even though he’s small, he can’t be underestimated.
“I believe in the little guy,” Guillard says. “I’ve knocked a lot of big people out in my time.”
Still, it’s the negative stuff Lauzon seems to like best.
“It’s nice to be overlooked a little bit,” he says. “I keep hearing Melvin talking about how he’s definitely going to fight for the title next time and who he’s going to fight next and how he’s going to knock me out and all this other stuff. We’ve still got to fight on Saturday. He can talk a lot, but on Saturday night we’re still getting locked in the cage and we’ll see who the better man is.”
Lauzon is nothing if not a realist. He likely knows full well that he comes into this fight as a 3-1 underdog. He knows that Guillard cruises in on a five-fight win streak and is largely regarded as being just one or two more away from that shot at the title. Lauzon, on the other hand, is just 4-3 in the Octagon since 2008 and concedes he’s nowhere near as close to top contender status as Guillard is right now.
He also won’t go as far as to guarantee a win as Guillard has, instead saying he’s ultimately more interested in putting on a good show for the fans and perhaps picking up his ninth performance-based bonus in 11 appearances.
Still, given some time to sit around in his hotel room and think about it, Lauzon has some things to say too, when asked the right questions.
“Personally, I think I’m the worst matchup for Melvin Guillard,” he says. “His biggest weakness seems to be submissions. He’s been a lot better lately, but at the same time I’ve submitted a lot of guys, a lot of really good guys, too.”