The Joe Lauzon who engaged in two of the most memorable fights of recent years, against Jamie Varner and Jim Miller, was back in the house on Friday night. And Michael Chiesa once against proved himself capable of an exciting scrap, himself.
Lauzon and Chiesa put on a tremendous seven-minute lightweight scrap to kick off the main card of UFC Fight Night 50 at Foxwoods Casino.
Just as it was about to turn into a Fight of the Year contender, it was waved off, as a nasty cut cut above Chiesa's right eye brought a halt to things. Lauzon was named the victor due to doctor stoppage TKO at 2:14 of the round.
"I'm super happy," said Lauzon, who has weathered the serious illness of his first-born son this year. "A lot of people came out, I appreciate the support, I had a rough start to the year but I'm coming back strong.
The first round was a sweet mix of transitions and submission attempts, with both fighters doing damage. Lauzon came on strong at the end to likely seal the round.
A crazy round two turned into a wild striking affair. Chiesa rocked Lauzon and got him to cover up, but Lauzon landed a brutal, pinpoint knee in the clinch which opened the fight-ending cut. Referee Herb Dean called in the doctor, who waved it off.
"The whole plan was to come forward," Lauzon said. "I rushed in a little bit, I didn't want to deal with his length."
Chiesa (11-2), the TUF: Live winner, was upset with the stoppage, but calmed down and asked for a rematch. He cited Lauzon's loss to Miller, in which Lauzon was allowed to fight through one of the deepest cuts ever seen in the UFC and go the distance.
"Joe won tonight but he didn't beat me," said the Spokane, Wash. native. "My plan was to make this a dogfight. He never broke me, I hope he gives me a rematch. You saw his cut against Jim Miller, you can continue to fight."
Lauzon (24-9) set a UFC lightweight record with his 10th stoppage win.