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UFC 144 preview: Joe Lauzon looks for second consecutive upset with win over Anthony Pettis

Joe Lauzon(left) will face Anthony Pettis at UFC 144

The UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson event will feature a lightweight bout between TUF alum Joe Lauzon and former WEC lightweight champion Anthony “Showtime” Pettis on Saturday night. The bout is set to take place in Saitama, Japan, at the Saitama Super Arena. It should be a very competitive fight as their styles matchup pretty well. Lauzon is looking for his second consecutive upset win after beating Melvin Guillard his last time out. Pettis is looking to get into title contention with a win over Lauzon. Let’s see how this one shakes out.

Joe Lauzon comes into this fight with a career record of (21-6) with 17 wins via submission and four wins via TKO/KO. As mentioned earlier, Lauzon is coming off a very quick submission win over Melvin Guillard in his last outing back in October 2011. Lauzon has won three of his last four bouts with all of those wins coming via submission. Lauzon’s strength lies in his grappling ability, but he has shown improvement in his striking skills as well. He has stunned his last two opponents with punches before getting the submission win. He has also won the UFC submission of the night award five times, while also winning the UFC fight of the night award on three ocassions.

Anthony Pettis comes into this fight with a career record of (14-2) with six wins via submission and five wins via TKO/KO. Pettis was last seen in action winning a split decision against Jeremy Stephens to get his first official UFC win back in October 2011. Pettis had lost his UFC debut against Clay Guida as Guida was able to take him down and control him on the ground with his smothering style. Pettis is most famous for his ‘Showtime kick’ which he landed against Ben Henderson to help secure his victory to become the last WEC lightweight champion prior to moving to the UFC after the merger. Pettis is a well rounded fighter, but his biggest weakness is his takedown defense.

Pettis is the favorite at (-285) and Lauzon as the underdog at (+215).

I would be all over these odds to place a bet on Lauzon at these odds. I think Pettis should be the favorite, but this fight is closer than the line indicates in my opinion. Lauzon certainly has the skills to get Pettis to the ground and control him while grinding out a decision. Both guys do have a common opponent in Jeremy Stephens. Lauzon submitted Stephens in the second round with Pettis taking a close split decision win over Stephens last year. It should be noted that Lauzon fought Stephens over three years ago.

Takedown defense and transitions is probably going to be the story of this fight for Pettis. If Lauzon can be successful with his takedowns and grappling he should be able to pull off the upset. Pettis has shown that he is vulnerable to takedowns, plus his creative striking puts him in bad positions at times which also leave him vulnerable. Lauzon has shown the ability to generate good power with his striking, so Pettis will need to respect that as well. Lauzon needs to strike well enough to set up his takedowns or simply close the distance while putting Pettis against the cage and going to work from there. Now the fight definitely isn’t over once the fight goes to the ground as Pettis is more than capable of landing a submission. In fact, he has won three fights via triangle choke from his back with Lauzon being submitted three times in his MMA career. However, putting Pettis on his back is Lauzon’s clear path to victory.

Pettis can win this fight on the feet as he’s often difficult to hit, but he can also surprise many by taking Lauzon down and working from the top position. Pettis doesn’t look for takedowns often but when he does he lands them at a 77% clip. He may look to take Lauzon down if the opportunity presents itself. If not, he’ll need to use the two inch reach advantage he’ll have and work from range with his jab. He’ll also need to limit the amount of leg kicks he’ll throw as that would make him susceptible to takedowns from Lauzon. The key to everything for Pettis is defending the takedown at all cost though.

I expect this fight to be all over the place. Lauzon has shown that he can be a very exciting fighter, and Pettis certainly has that pedigree as well. I expect a high pace fight with lots of transitions, and whoever wins those transitions will likely take the decision win in this one. I’ll probably pick Pettis to win this one, but I certainly think Lauzon could win this one no question.

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