Ever since he burst onto the MMA scene Joe Lauzon has been working to earn respect. Hes lost only once since then–to top contender Kenny Florian in a bout that earned fight of the night honors–but for some reason hes had trouble being taken seriously as a top contender in the UFCs lightweight division. In the main event at the UFC Ultimate Fight Night in Tampa, Lauzon withstood a game challenge from late replacement Jeremy Stephens to earn a 2nd round submission victory.
Lauzon was in control of the fight throughout, but Stephens gave a good account of himself. Stephens wasnt able to match up with Lauzon’s ever improving BJJ skills, but he used good old fashioned tenacity and some powerful punching to keep the fight competitive throughout. Lauzon appeared to be on the verge of ending the fight midway through the second with a ground and pound assault that he attempted to transition into a rear naked choke. Stephens fought back with a vengeance despite his disadvantageous position and opened a nasty cut on Lauzon’s forehead with an elbow strike.
Lauzon gained a new sense of urgency not wanting to lose on a stoppage due to the cut. He regained control on the ground and from full mount twisted into a nasty arm bar. Stephens tried to extricate himself, but was eventually forced to tap giving the bloody Lauzon a hard fought triumph.
The semifinal matchup featured another impressive effort from Cain Velasquez, who many have pegged as the heavyweight superstar of the future. He trains with the American Kickboxing Academy, and has a reputation as the hardest worker and most dominant sparring partner in a gym who includes among its membership superstars such as Bobby Southworth, Cung Le and Josh Thompson.
Velasquez was never really threatened in the fight, but he did have difficulty finishing off tough UFC newcomer Dennis Stojnic. Stojnic displayed impressive toughness and a chin of granite as he became the first of Velasquez’s opponents to make it into the second round.
In the second round, Velasquez quickly caught his opponent and sent him to the canvas with a nice combination which he followed up with another ground and pound attack. Stojnic again kept trying to defend himself despite a hellacious beating, though the referee finally jumped in and stopped the contest awarding Velasquez the TKO verdict.
On the undercard, Josh The Dentist Neer earned a tapout victory over the sports best known (and perhaps only) vegan, Mac Danzig.
In the opening bout of the evening, up-and-coming welterweight Anthony Rumble Johnson used his significant height and reach advantage to dispatch tough Luigi Fioravanti. Though most observers were impressed with Johnson’s wall to wall domination of the tough US Marine Corps veteran, he was very critical of himself in his postfight interview calling his performance sloppy.
The live crowd in Tampa gave a very poor account of themselves, at times booing fighters mercilessly for no apparent reason whatsoever. Their behavior reached a nadir in Cain Velasquez’s post fight interview, where he was booed mercilessly despite an impressive victory and informing Joe Rogan that he was about to become a father for the first time.
Ross Everett is a freelance sports writer and noted authority on soccer betting. His writing has appeared on a variety of sports sites including sports news and sportsbook directory sites. He lives in Southern Nevada with three Jack Russell Terriers and an emu. He is currently working on an autobiography of former interior secretary James Watt.