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Joe Lauzon: ‘It sucks’ that Donald Cerrone was forced out of UFC 274, unsure if fight will be rebooked

Joe Lauzon isn’t happy about having his fight pulled out from under him at UFC 274.

Lauzon was supposed to face Donald Cerrone in a highly anticipated lightweight matchup at UFC 274. But just hours before the fight was supposed to go down, Cerrone was forced out of the fight due to illness, reportedly the result of food poisoning. It was an unfortunate setback for Lauzon, who hasn’t competed since 2019.

Speaking with Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, Lauzon talked through the experience and how he reacted to the news.

“I tried to do my best not to cry,” he said. “Of course, I did cry a little bit. I was just so upset because all this effort that’s been put into this. We knew about this fight in the first week of February. So we’ve been training so hard for so long, all of February, all of March, all of April, it’s like a three-month camp. We really picked up all the stuff like conditioning before that even happened because you’re just getting geared up knowing that we wanted to fight soon.

“I blew off family vacation ... . We cancelled vacation and I was like, ‘I promise we’ll go right after this fight.’ Then it gets moved from April 30 to May 7. Now it’s like, what do we do now? Are we going to fight in two weeks? Are we going to fight in six weeks? Are we going to fight in four months? Is the fight going to happen at all? There’s so many things thrown up in the air.”

One of the biggest things in question for Lauzon is his pay. The lightweight veteran has not competed in over two years and noted that he “neglected” his gym during his fight preparation. In situations like this, the UFC has frequently opted to pay fighters their show money, but he argues that while that’s all well and good, he was, through no fault of his own, deprived of a chance to earn substantially more.

“I talked to Sean Shelby and he’s like, ‘Ah, Cowboy’s sick. I’m really, really sorry. I know how much this sucks. We’re going to try and schedule it again in six weeks and get you booked.’ And I’m like, that doesn’t really help me that much,” Lauzon said. “It’s easy to say that. And I understand from Sean Shelby’s position, he has to shift all these fights. He loses fights, he has to shift them, he has to make adjustments, I totally understand that, but it’s such a big — my entire life is revolved around this. Some people are not as focused as others. I could not be more focused. Everything in my entire life revolved around this and now it’s gone. It’s just not happening now. It sucks...

“I think they’re going to give me my show money and I’ll get the Venum money. I think my show money is $74,000, so I’ll get $74,000 and I’ll get $21,000. But honestly, it’s like, I didn’t even get the chance. I could have not trained and shown up and got kicked in the face and made $95,000. It wasn’t about that. It was about, I want to get that win money, I want to get that bonus money. It could have easily been a $250,000, $230,000 weekend. Very, very easily. Especially because the fights weren’t great on the card. We could have easily had ‘Fight of the Night.’ We could have easily had Performance bonuses. There’s so many ways it could have been a $300,000 weekend, like that [snaps fingers].

“I’m super thankful to the UFC, they could have told me, ‘Hey, we’re going to rebook it in six weeks and give you $10,000 for now.’ So I’m super happy, I’m super grateful they’re giving me my show money, but it’s still a bummer.”

But the biggest bummer of all for Lauzon is that there’s no clear path for what comes next. He said he’s still interested in a matchup with Cerrone, but when and where that might happen are major questions. He noted that fresh off a bout of food poisoning, Cerrone might not be looking for a quick turnaround, especially to cut back to lightweight.

Lauzon said he reached out to Cowboy, who told him he will be filming a movie in Thailand from late May to mid-June. That restricts the possible dates the two men could finally get in the cage together, and makes it increasingly more likely for this fight to be moved back substantially.

“I don’t even know what I want to do, so that’s the hard part,” Lauzon said. “There’s a show at the [UFC APEX] in two weeks. I don’t [want to fight at the APEX] but at this point I want to f****** fight. I’ve done all this work. I’m not going to Singapore, but there’s a show in two weeks at the APEX and there’s a show in six weeks in Austin, TX.

“I’ll wait until tonight and then I’ll text Sean Shelby and find out what’s going on. If they’re going to do it in two weeks, I’m definitely in. Even in six weeks, I’m sure I’ll be in. It would be hard for me to say no. If they come back — I hear they’re coming to Boston this fall, August or September, something like that. That would be nice to fight on that card, but it would also be a huge kick in the nuts. Like, oh you did this entire three month camp, you focused on Cowboy, and now we’re going to do it in another four months. That would be pretty crappy. At that point I’d have to really think about it. I’d love to fight in Boston, but at the same time, I’d have to think about it a little bit more.”

If the worst comes to pass and for some reason Lauzon can’t get rebooked in a timely fashion, the Massachusetts native admits it’s possible that he may not return.

“I think so, but I don’t even know now,” Lauzon said when asked if he will fight again. “I literally had two and a half years where I didn’t fight because I was worried the fight was going to be cancelled last minute, and then my biggest fear came true. That’s the entire thing. I have so much anxiety going forward now. I don’t know [if I will fight again]. I have no idea. How s**** is it to go out like that?

“I’ve king of neglected [my gym] the last couple months, and that’s the other thing. The gym is the longterm thing that’s going to drive my life, my career. Am I going go and neglect that for another three months, four months? Am I going to miss seven, eight months over there. I may need to prioritize that a little bit. So I don’t know. I’ve got a lot of questions. Too many questions. That’s why it would have been nice if the fight [had happened], regardless of how the fight went. Win or lose, I would have way more information on what’s going on. I just don’t know now.”

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