Donald Cerrone vs. Jose Lauzon is a meeting between two UFC veterans and legends. Both have done their time in the UFC and sustained a very high performance level for extensive years since entering the promotion, in 2011 and 2006 respectively.
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Donald Cerrone first made a name for himself in WEC, one of the earlier organizations to rival the UFC back in the day and at one point the premier promotions for lighter weight fighters. He was brought over to the UFC when the UFC eventually absorbed the WEC, and continued his winning streak from the WEC in the UFC. Along the way, Cerrone, better known as Cowboy, has acted as one-half of many legendary fights, holding victories over Charles Oliveira, Edson Barboza, Eddie Alvarez, Benson Henderson, and Matt Brown.
Lauzon, likewise, has accumulated respectable names over the years, even making his UFC debut against former UFC champion Jens Pulver. In an odd turn of events, Lauzon would then fight opposite Lauzon’s team in his season coaching The Ultimate Fighter and beating two of Lauzon’s fighters. The years following saw mixed results but Lauzon earned big wins over Jeremy Stephens, Michael Chiesa, Takanori Gomi, and Diego Sanchez. He also holds the record for most ‘Submission of the Night’ bonuses in UFC history.
Cerrone steps in as the betting favorite before UFC on
Lauzon’s underdog odds mean that a winning $100 bet would return $230 this weekend. A $100 bet on Cerrone would return $162 if “Cowboy” is victorious.
There is one major and obvious factor surrounding this fight that is at the forefront of most analysts’ minds. The narrative surrounding Donald Cerrone for the better part of his career is that he has a massively difficult time getting into a fight early. Historically his worst moments come in the first round, and those able to swarm him have been the ones who have most definitely dominated the cowboy. Lauzon has the opposite problem, he has historically been a tremendous starter, swarming his opponents and then, especially recently, lost his lead due to a largely declining performance as he tires. His ability to put the pressure on early is sometimes at the cost of his ability to maintain top notch technique and pace afterwards, should his opponent survive, and yet logic would dictate he needs to take that risk in order to exploit Cowboy when he is weakest in the fight.
Expect Lauzon to come out from the opening bell like a ‘bat out of hell’. The big question that will have major ramifications in who the winner will be is if Cerrone can manage the storm or if Lauzon can either finish him or get ahead so dominantly he can carry his lead to the finish line. For Cowboy’s sake, the biggest key to victory is being able to use his skills to weather the early onslaught, and he does have these tools. Donald Cerrone is a predominantly Muay Thai fighter, he stands very tall and flat and throws pretty much everything with power, although in combinations he is so fluid at chaining techniques together it’s not really rigid. He will slip very far when he sets up combinations on different levels, such as a far dip to body shot so that he can come up to the head next but when he throws multiple punches only to the head he comes in with his head on the centerline. This is dangerous as his left hand is rarely there to guard his chin, and he tends to move with the punch as defense instead.
He has a great kicking game, and it’s at a higher level than Lauzon. Between leg kicks and head kicks mostly, they’re quick and his rear leg is about equal to his speed on his switch kick so he comes from both sides and multiple angles at any time. Between his superior kicking game and a better striking clinch, Cerrone’s best bet early on is to consistently force Lauzon to fight all the way in, in a grappling scenario, or from kicking distance. This will allow Cerrone to stay safe from Lauzon’s biggest shots, which mostly come from his hands until he has finally settled into the fight.
It’s also notable that Cerrone has a tricky unorthodox rhythm to his combinations and he likes to float left with the straight right, left uppercut combination to open the angle of his right kick. Lauzon is even more flat-footed than him as he likes to plant, pressure, and throw so he may be in place for the kick should Cerrone draw the high guard from Lauzon with his punches.
Lauzon does best with his hands, he has long arms and has a good whip on his shots which are very technical and fast. He doesn’t kick nearly as much as Cerrone, but he is very good at catching kicks and countering with the takedown so if Cerrone throws them naked without setting up he may find himself on his back. Cerrone has a very technical ground game, but it’s relatively basic. He likes to shoot for the double leg without fully committing because he comes up and either uses the waist lock instead or rises through with strikes. Lauzon on the other hand commits fully when he chases the takedown and is a better chain wrestler than Cerrone who tends to look for more individual shots. Lauzon will look to entangle limbs and drag the fight down, and what makes him special is he is always already in position when he hits the floor. You won’t see Lauzon shoot for a double leg and sit in guard. Whether he is circling to the back or using an outside trip, he is instantly looking to land in half guard, side control, mount, or secure hooks.
He is also always restricting his opponent’s movement as much as possible, isolating limbs with leg entanglements or hooking arms with motorcycle grips so that when he lands ground and pound, his opponents are at a detriment with what they can use to defend.
Again, I think how the two men react in the first round will give a good idea of who will win. Cerrone has to use his kicks and his clinch to minimize Lauzon’s pressure early on and if he can do so, generally he gets better as Lauzon fades. Lauzon has to get Cowboy cold, before he gets comfortable and when he does get comfortable, attempt to maintain boxing range or drag cowboy to the floor.
Cerrone is a black belt himself with good submissions and solid positional control and awareness but where Lauzon thrives a bit more is isolating unexpected ground and pound positions, so as they transition, Lauzon has to make full advantage of when he can hurt cowboy on the mat and not allow it to become a pure jiu-jitsu match.
One more variable we have to consider is that while Lauzon may have seemed in better form in his last fight compared to Cerrone’s last few outings, Lauzon has been out of the sport for roughly two and a half years. If he also needs a few minutes to readjust to the octagon that bodes very well for Cerrone. That being said, I do think Cerrone can weather the storm against Lauzon and ultimately edge out a victory later in the fight.
Pick: Donald Cerrone to win (-160 odds at BetUS)
Braeden Arbour is an aspiring journalist out of Ontario, Canada. He is a recent graduate of Trent University, with a black belt in Karate and a blue belt in Judo. He has also been an avid fan of MMA for the last decade.