UFC 223 has turned into quite the circus thanks to the antics of Conor McGregor this week.
The Irish mixed martial arts superstar was arraigned on charges of assault on Friday following his violent, suprise appearance at a pre-fight press event in Brooklyn on Thursday afternoon. McGregor was seen vandalizing and throwing objects at a bus carrying fighters who were set to fight at the Barclay Center on Saturday. Several athletes, including Michael Chiesa and Ray Borg, were injured during the mayhem and forced to withdraw from their bouts.
On top of that, the card was already in a bit of trouble as interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson was forced to drop out of his main event fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov due to an injury a week before UFC 223. Featherweight champion Max Holloway stepped up on short notice, but he too was kicked off the card over medical concerns about his weight cut.
Amid the chaos, Massachusetts native Joe Lauzon has kept calm in the background, avoiding all the drama and staying focused on his own scrap with Chris Gruetzemacher. A day before McGregor’s wild incident threw the UFC for a loop, Lauzon spoke with Metro about whether he would’ve stepped in for Ferguson to take on Nurmagomedov.
“If I was asked, I definitely would,” Lauzon said. “I felt like there was a couple other 155ers on the card that would get it before I would.”
“155 is the most competitive, toughest division,” he added. “On any given time, the top 5, top 6 guys can fight for a title and win, [even] top 10 guys, top 15 guys. Anyone has there day and styles make fights.”
The Boston-bred fighter’s words proved to be a bit prophetic, as New York’s own Al Iaquinta will reportedly now take the main event slot left vacant by Ferguson and Holloway.
Although Lauzon won’t get that coveted main card battle, he’s still determined to get back in the win column against Gruetzemacher this weekend. Both fighters are coming off of two-fight losing streaks, and a third loss could mean being cut by the UFC.
Lauzon isn’t too worried, though, as he feels like he has the edge against Gruetzemacher, calling the match-up a “super winnable fight.”
“I’m better everywhere, but he’s just really durable,” Lauzon said. “He kind of fights like Homer Simpson a little bit. He gets hit, but he keeps on coming back.”
Although he’s already made a mark on the sport over his 14 year professional career, Lauzon has no plans to hang up the gloves anytime soon. But if the end should come at some point down the road, he wants it to be on his own terms.
“I’ve been very aware of the fact that any fight can be your last fight since my fight in the UFC,” Lauzon said. “But to me, this is a fight I need to win. If I can’t win this fight, I definitely need to go back and think about what’s going on and maybe reassess a little bit.”
“I don’t think anyone else is going to tell me I’m done,” he added. “It’s going to be based on what I think.”