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Joe Lauzon Interview: Training with the best for Florian

For Joe Lauzon, his stint on the fifth season of Spike TV's reality UFC reality show, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) has brought him more than just fan recognition.

For starters, the relationship he developed with coach B.J. Penn, now has him splitting the year "around 50-50" between Penn's hometown of Hilo, Hawaii, and Lauzon's native Massachusetts.

"Training in Hawaii with a guy like B.J. is just amazing, he's one of the best pound for pound fighters period," Lauzon told "It's not only training with the best guy in your weight class every single day, but also all of the other fighters who are there and who come through to train with him."

One of those fighters who came to train was Urijah Faber (20-1), World Extreme Cage Fighting Featherweight Champion. Faber, spent a couple weeks training with Penn and Lauzon in Hilo in preparation for his upcoming bout with Jens Pulver (22-8-1). Both Penn and Lauzon have previously defeated Pulver.

"Not only did I have the best 155'er to train with, I had the best 145'er in Urijah," says Lauzon.

Lauzon (16-3, 3-0 UFC) says that since he started training with Penn (12-4-1, 8-3-1 UFC) that every aspect of his game has improved. Not only has Lauzon's physical skill set improved, but working with Penn has improved the mental side of his fight game as well.

"He's helped me with mental toughness, he's very mentally tough," says Lauzon.

"Another thing I've noticed is that any time he shows you anything he has the utmost confidence in it; like "this is the best, this is the best." I think that goes a long way, if you don't have faith in what you're trying to do, it's not going to work. There might be something that's not the best, but if you have faith, it will work."

Lauzon has plenty of faith that the training he has done will guide him to a victory over Kenny Florian (9-3, 6-2 UFC) on April 2 at Ultimate Fight Night 13, in Broomfield, Colorado, a suburb of Denver. The Lauzon-Florian tilt will headline what Lauzon says is "maybe the best card I've seen for an MMA show ever. Every single guy is a name guy that people care about, and they're all great match ups."

Lauzon says that his game plan for the fight is to put Florian on his back, and constantly apply pressure. "No matter how good your jiu jitsu is, when you're curled up in a ball and you're against the fence it's definitely not a good time."

Aside from Florian's submission prowess, Lauzon says that there are many aspects of Florian's game that he will be on the lookout for.

"I don't want him kicking me, I don't want him kneeing me, and I don't want him elbowing me. Those are all his strengths, and we want to stay away from those the best that we can."

Lauzon says that Florian will have to watch out for him while changing positions in the fight.

"He's got to be real careful in the scrambles, careful in the transitions. I think that is where I shine, pulling off fast transitions and catching people off guard.

Lauzon is taking no chances with having problems with adjusting to the altitude while fighting near Denver. He arrived in Fort Collins, Colorado on March 15th, in order to begin high altitude preparation, more than two weeks in advance of his bout with Florian.

Lauzon said he is staying and training with former TUF cast mate Noah Thomas (10-4). In addition to Thomas Lauzon said that he will be working out with his younger brother, Dan Lauzon (9-2, 0-1 UFC).

"I think that getting here so early will give me an advantage," says Lauzon, "I'm not super worried about it [the altitude] but I think it will help."

If Lauzon succeeds in implementing his game plan and defeats Florian, it may not be too long before he is challenging Penn for the lightweight title of the UFC.

"I train with B.J. every day, so I kind of know how that match up would go," says Lauzon, "it's not something I'm looking forward to, but some time down the line who knows."

Lauzon said that while it would be hard to fight his training partner and mentor Penn, he wouldn't have much choice in the matter.

"He would make me fight him," Lauzon says, "it kind of shows you what kind of guy he is that he wouldn't let me turn down an opportunity to fight him for a championship."

What would his strategy be for a fight against Penn? "I have no idea," chuckles Lauzon, "B.J. is a freak. I'd have to figure out something. But, I'm not going to even start to think about that yet, I have to deal with Kenny first."

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