BOSTON – Michael Johnson certainly didn’t look like a fighter who had the deck stacked against him on Saturday.
Johnson was a betting underdog against Joe Lauzon, and Lauzon’s hometown crowd certainly didn’t make Johnson feel welcome early. But then Johnson shut all that down, dominating Lauzon for 15 minutes en route to a unanimous decision upset win.
The lightweight bout took place today at UFC Fight Night 26 at Boston’s TD Garden. It aired on FOX Sports 1 following prelims on FOX Sports 1 and Facebook.
Lauzon had the crowd behind him in a big way early, but he stayed composed and waited for his opening. Johnson peppered jabs and kicks early, but it was nothing threatening. A couple minutes in, Lauzon looked like he wanted a takedown, but Johnson shrugged him off. Johnson wasn’t afraid to get inside and threw uppercuts and body punches that got Lauzon’s attention enough to finally force him to throw a few punches in return.
Johnson then caught Lauzon with a hard straight left that put the Boston-area native on the canvas. Johnson was careful to not rush in, and back on the feet the two exchanged with big punches as Lauzon recovered. But Johnson continued to come forward late in the round with body-head. And again he dropped Lauzon, and the hometown favorite was fortunate to survive the round.
Lauzon clinched up with Johnson early in the second and looked to take the fight to the ground, where he would have a clear advantage after being beat up on the feet in the first. But Johnson survived the takedown attempt, and Lauzon looked to take advantage with “The Menace” appearing to slow down.
Lauzon landed a good left hand, then ate a few Johnson uppercuts right after. With 90 seconds left, Lauzon landed and forced Johnson to tie things up on the fence, where they quickly were urged to work by Yves Lavigne. With 20 seconds left in the round, Lauzon came forward perhaps looking to secure the round – but a Johnson takedown may have stolen it right back.
Ninety seconds into the third, Johnson put together a prolonged combination of punches, elbows, kicks and knees, and Lauzon just had little to offer in response. Johnson scored a takedown late in the fight, a cap to a dominating upset in hostile territory. Johnson took the fight with a pair of 30-27 scores – and a 30-25, with one judge giving him a pair of 10-8 rounds.
“This was definitely my best performance, not just because of how I performed but who I performed against,” Johnson said. “This training camp was push, push, push because I was the underdog from the moment we signed to fight Lauzon. I got booed at weigh-ins, and that’s all the motivation I needed to come out here in his hometown and do it right. Joe is one of the guys I respected and wanted to fight from the time I got into the UFC. I knew he’d be willing to compete with me where the fight was tough. He brought out the best in me.”
Johnson (13-8 MMA, 5-4 UFC) snapped a two-fight losing skid with his first win since October 2012. Lauzon (22-9 MMA, 9-6 UFC) now has lost back-to-back fights after a December loss to Jim Miller and he has dropped three of his past four.
Up-to-the-minute UFC Fight Night 26 results include:
- Michael Johnson def. Joe Lauzon via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-25)
- Michael McDonald def. Brad Pickett via submission (triangle choke) – Round 2, 3:43
- Conor McGregor def. Max Holloway via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
- Steven Siler def. Mike Brown via KO (punches) – Round 1, 0:50
- Diego Brandao def. Daniel Pineda via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Manny Gamburyan def. Cole Miller via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Ovince St. Preux def. Cody Donovan via KO (punches) – Round 1, 2:07
- James Vick def. Ramsey Nijem via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 1, 0:58
For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 26, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.
John Morgan and Steven Marrocco contributed to this report on-site in Boston.