The UFC on FOX 4 event will feature a lightweight fight between former WEC champion Jamie Varner and former TUF participant Joe Lauzon on Saturday night. It’s a fight that will draw a few looks from hardcore fans due to Jamie Varner’s huge upset win over Edson Barboza in his last outing. He has the potential to be a dark horse contender in the division if he’s there mentally, but Lauzon is no one to take lightly and certainly will come to fight. Let’s see how this one breaks down.
Joe Lauzon (21-7) is coming off a KO loss against Anthony Pettis at UFC 144. Lauzon had won back-to-back fights prior to that loss, including an upset win over Melvin Guillard. Lauzon has 17 wins via submission and four wins via TKO/KO. Lauzon’s strength is in his grappling and submissions skills, but his striking has improved over the years as well. He only has one fight that has gone the distance and has been submitted three times while being stopped via TKO/KO three times.
Jamie Varner (20-6-1, 2NC) is coming off the huge win over Barboza that I mentioned previously. It was his fight UFC fight in over fight years and he took the bout on short notice. Varner has nine wins via TKO/KO and nine wins via submission. Varner is a well rounded fighter with solid boxing, wrestling, and decent ground game. It should be noted that he has been submitted in three of his losses.
These two fighters are really close on paper in regards to striking accuracy, takedowns, and takedown defense according to Fightmetric. Varner will have a slight reach advantage and I do believe he is the more polished striker of the two. I think he has better takedown defense as well. Lauzon’s best shot at winning this fight is getting Varner down on the ground and submitting him. If he’s not able to do that he’ll more than likely lose a decision or get finished via TKO.
Varner will likely look to keep this fight on the feet and use well timed takedowns to keep Lauzon honest on his take down attempts. Varner does like to throw big power shots at times which could allow Lauzon to transition into a well timed takedown attempt of his own. Lauzon’s only successful on 48% of his takedown attempts against competition that as a whole does not have the wrestling ability that Varner does. Lauzon is pretty crafty on the ground and is most dangerous when he has top position. He’s well versed in leg locks which could be a factor here as I don’t see him catching Varner in a conventional submission, such as an armbar. The x-factor in this fight is Varner’s mindset.
When focused Varner should be able to get the best of Joe Lauzon, however, losing focus against a scrappy fighter like Lauzon will get you beat.