We are just too swamped to do our TUF recap this week! Luckily Rafael Kayanan has a very thorough examination of the surprising Lauzon/Cole fight. As far as we’re concerned, the most notable thing about this episode was Lobstah, fight instigator getting kicked out while in the middle of making lobstah chowdah!!! That was tragic.
“Protect yourself at all times” is an old boxing adage which fighter Cole Miller found to be a very relevant one in this week’s segment of TUF when he faced the excellent, but sometimes wild ground and pound style of Joe Lauzon.
This technical fight was marred by an accidental illegal blow to the back of Cole Miller’s head. It is unfortunate because the grappling contained many transitions and the aggressiveness of the fighters ground game caused the momentum to switch back and forth. It showed how grappling can contain more than two people staying in a guard’s comfort zone and not working to get submissions right away.
From the opening of round one, the fighters exhibited that it was a good matchup. Miller opened up with two punches as both he and Lauzon mirrored one another by responding in a near identical high left cover to protect their heads from any follow-ups. This quick initial exchange revealed that Lauzon’s guard showed better form for the UFC’s purposes, because he his gloves covered beyond his ears, almost cupping the top and back of his head. Miller’s defense resembled more of a boxer’s head cover with the palm facing directly in front of the ear which is great for boxing because it takes full advasntage of the over-sized gloves. Due to the much smaller MMA gloves, the boxer’s cover exposes more of his head and it does not protect in certain positions that are legal in MMA but not n the standup game of boxing.
This small contrast in technique foreshadows how Miller’s head will be left unprotected, and cause an unfortunate shift in an otherwise even fight.
Lauzon counters a Miller kick by shooting in for a takedown which Miller instantly counters and almost gets a rear naked choke on Lauzon. Lauzon tucks his left knee high and uses his free arm to bat away Miller’s left leg so that he would not get his “hooks” into his hip and pretty much end the fight. Miller is relentless and still gets his leg in but Lauzon had bought himself that fraction of second to twist his torso and enable himself to pass the leg again and end up in a half guard.
Lauzon is aggressive even on his back as he does not listen to coach BJ Penn’s instruction to go into a full guard but instead goes for a knee bar on Miller. Miller looks like a praying mantis on the ground as he struggles back on to his feet by countering the leg lock.
As Miller briefly stands over Lauzon, note that Lauzon is again in that modified high cover protecting his head, even though it is the farthest target for Miller at this point. “Protect yourself at all times”
The fight moves quickly again repeating the same leglock sequence and counter and then Lauzon countering Miller’s several triangle and arm bar attempts. Only someone who knows how the mechanics of the triangle choke and armbar flow works can counter it so effectively as Lauzon does here. You can tell this because the locks somehow appear loose and sloppy as if Miller is just dangling his legs in search of them. However, it is Lauzon countering the locks before Miller gets past the lock’s halfway point that creates this odd movement to the untrained eye.
The fight then goes back in forth with Miller going for numerous triangle chokes and Lauzon countering it almost as quickly coach BJ Penn calls it out. Penn shows an advantage in coaching here because his instructions are concise and he drowns out any of Pulver’s calls. Unlike eliminated fighter Wang, Lauzon is attentive to Penn’s instruction and does not act on them only if he sees a more aggressive option. Lauzon has positioned Miller right in front of his team and coach as the bell sounds to end the round.
A slight off topic, the commercial between the rounds is for director William Friedkin’s BUG and I’m rooting for him to show off his horror chops once again.
Round two, Miller forgets his gameplan of dominating the action by misjudging Lauzon’s intensity. Lesser fighters would have circled and tried to get around Miller’s hit and run tactics, Lauzon devours and smothers the strikes and they go back on the ground quickly. Miller may have played coy in his pre-fight interview by stating he would be attacking right off the bat, he knows he has a good ground game and is comfortable fighting in that range.
It doesn’t take long before Miller is struck by an illegal Lauzon elbow. Miller’s hand was loose and not covering the back of his head, plus at the position he was in his head was braced against the floor and Lauzon’s body. The blow’s impact is absorbed. As I stated in an earlier commentary, knockouts happen when the brain gets a signal to shut down. Blows to the back of the head are illegal in the UFC for a good reason because the spine is exposed as well and in positions such as these are susceptible to being over extended if an elbow that is aimed at the back of the head pops it forward.
The difference between sport and real life is evident in this episode, you can see how the environment can be utilized as weapon on the street. An armbar will not work if the back of one’s head gets Tony Sopranoed against a cement curb. People have died in silly bar fights by getting KO’d by a punch and their head striking the unforgiving floor. The floor causing the lethal damage. I know of bouncers so good at what they do that they have knockout blows where they are still in position to catch and control their limp adversary.
Back to the fight, Miller has learned an unfortunate lesson, he finally figured out why fighters cover so high on their heads. Miller cups his gloves over his head correctly now, but the fight has left him. Lauzon wins by technical KO. This was a very good matchup and if not for the illegal blow could have gone to either fighter.