Joe Lauzon knew there was a chance he’d retire following his fight this past weekend at UFC on ESPN 6.
The terms of those conditions go back to a conversation he had with UFC President Dana White this past November, when he first decided he wanted to compete again after suffering three straight octagon losses.
“I corner Dana and I said I want to fight again,” Lauzon recounted when speaking to MMA Fighting on Monday. “He said, [my boxing coach Steve] ‘Maze doesn’t think you should fight.’ I understand, Maze is not in charge of me, (and) I’ve made some big changes. I promise I’ll be ready. I want to fight again.
“He’s like, ‘If you really want to fight again, we’ll let you. But your coaches don’t think it’s a good idea.’ I understand, they’re looking out for me, but this is what I want to do.”
Several months passed without a fight, so Lauzon wasn’t sure if the UFC was putting him on ice, hoping he’d eventually change his mind about competing again.
Obviously, that didn’t happen. Then over the summer, he got the call from UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby that plans were in motion to have him fight in his hometown of Boston in October.
At that point, Lauzon said he spoke to White again, assuring his boss that if his fight in Boston didn’t end well, he’d call it a career, no questions asked.
“I promise you will never, ever hear from me again about trying to fight,” Lauzon said of his words to the UFC exec. “I promised them. If the fight doesn’t go well, you will never hear from me about a fight again. He said, ‘Deal,’ and that got the ball rolling with Shelby. I think that was mid-June.
“The entire thing was, if the fight does not go well, you’ll never hear from me again.”
But then Lauzon followed through and demolished Jonathan Pearce in just 93 seconds. Afterward, he wasn’t ready to say his career was over. Instead, he insisted on making a decision that wasn’t based on the emotions that swelled with a win before a raucous hometown crowd.
Later that same night at the post-fight press conference, White relayed that Lauzon had told him he’d retire, win, lose, or draw. White appeared to be somewhat disappointed that didn’t happen.
But as Lauzon explained, he never told the UFC president he woud absolutely retire—only that he promised to never compete again if his fight in Boston didn’t end well.
“The entire thing was if the fight does not go well, you’ll never hear from me again,” Lauzon said. “I text Dana after the fight, and I haven’t seen what he said at the press conference, (and) I don’t even know if he said anything yet. I said, ‘Thank you for everything, I appreciate it,’ and he was like, ‘I was expecting a retirement speech.’
“I said, ‘Never make a decision when you’re emotional, (and) maybe that was the last one, but maybe not, we’ll see.’ Then he didn’t say anything, and then after the fact, the next day, I saw a thing about ‘I’m going to make Lauzon retire.’”
When he saw that headline, Lauzon then responded to White again to ensure there wasn’t any confusion over the promise he’d made.
“I’m not going to argue with (White), but I just sent him a screenshot of the conversation,’ Lauzon said. “I’m just letting you know I am a man of my word. I never said I was done win, lose, or draw, the way you’re explaining it,” Lauzon said. “It’s fine. I get it. They’re looking out for me. They don’t want to see me get beat up.
“I understand exactly what they’re saying, and they want it to end on a positive note, which it did, I understand. I’m just not ready to fully commit to the door being closed 100 percent.”
It’s entirely possible his win over Pearce from this past Friday could be his last. But Lauzon doesn’t want to declare he’s finished, only to get the itch to compete again six months to one year from now and be forced to walk back his own retirement.
Instead, Lauzon prefers to leave open a window of opportunity to potentially fight again, even if there’s no guarantee it will ever happen.
“I might want to do it again at some point but not right now,” Lauzon said. “I understand this is such a good thing, (and) we can end this on a positive note. I understand all of the pros to being done right now, and I’m not saying that I’m not going to do that. I’m just saying I’m not 100 percent committing to that.
“As soon as I say [I’m retired], then you come out of the USADA pool, (and) there’s no such thing as a quick turnaround. I’ll stay in the USADA pool, and if there’s something, an opponent that works out and I’m in great shape and things work out, then I’m eligible. That’s all it really is. I’ll wait it out and see what happens. Keep my options open.”
At this point, Lauzon can say with absolute certainty that he’s not sticking around for a bunch of fights. He’s also not trying to climb back into title contention at this stage of his career. There is the chance, however, that another golden opportunity could fall into his lap and he’d be crazy to say no.
“I’m not going to fight someone I don’t want to fight,” he said. “I’m not going to fight somewhere I don’t want to fight. I’m not going to fight some time I don’t want to fight,” Lauzon explained.
“If I’m done, I’m done. If I’m going to fight, it’s going to be because everything’s perfect.”
That said, Lauzon’s experience this past Friday night was something out of a movie. If it is the ending, it’s the best possible ending.
“Everything was great,” he said. “The fact that it was in Boston, (and) the fact that it was off such a long layoff. Randy Costa won first. Just a lot of things went really, really well.
“This was a big one. I’ve had a lot of good ones. The Melvin [Guillard] fight was really memorable. The [Jens] Pulver one, the Gabe Ruediger one, I’ve had so many fights. I’ve had a lot of really, really great fights where I’ll never forget certain things. This was probably the cherry on top. This might be the best.”