Joe Lauzon and Michael Chiesa kicked off the UFC Fight Night 50 main card at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut on Friday night, both men trying to stay on track for a climb up the lightweight ranks towards an eventual shot at the belt.
As always, however, only one man can walk away the victor.
Chiesa started out strong, establishing his jab and defending Lauzon’s takedown attempts. They were in the clinch often in the opening minutes, Chiesa doing a good job landing knees from the clinch.
He eventually made a mistake, however, when he took Lauzon to the mat. Lauzon quickly reversed, took Chiesa’s back and landed punches and elbows for a time, trying to open Chiesa up for a submission.
The submission didn’t come, though, and they eventually returned to their feet, both men landing some solid punch combinations as the first round came to a close.
Chiesa again started strong to open the second round, landing a kick to Lauzon’s ribs and followed with a left hook.
Lauzon, however, wasn’t about to lay back and take it. He kept pressing forward and eventually landed a hard left hook to the body that hunched Chiesa over. Lauzon kept plowing forward with punch combinations before securing a Thai clinch, where he opened Chiesa up with a knee to the head.
They separated and Chiesa landed a few good punches, but when the pace slowed, referee Herb Dean called the doctor in to check a gash over Chiesa’s right eye.
On the doctor’s recommendation, and to the fans disappointment, Dean called a halt to the fight, awarding Lauzon the victory.
“It’s really tough when guys are so tall sometimes,” said Lauzon, giving up three inches in height and four-and-a-half inches of reach to Chiesa. “But I was able to just pressure him and get the cut.
“The whole entire plan was to stay outside and get him to come forward. I hit him with a knee and just tried to pour it on.”
Chiesa, of course, did not want the fight to be stopped, and certainly looked to have plenty of gas left in the tank, but the cageside doctor felt the cut was too severe.
“He won tonight, but he didn’t beat me,” Chiesa said after the fight. “I’d love a rematch. I feel like I deserve it. I was never out of the fight.”
It was an important victory for Lauzon, who hasn’t fought since defeating Mac Danzig in December to end a two-fight skid. More important was why he hadn’t fought since December.
Lauzon’s son Joey was born in January and shortly thereafter diagnosed with cancer. After three rounds of chemo, Joey proved to be every inch the fighter that his pops is, kicking the cancer down the road.
SEE ALSO: Lauzon’s Son Joey is a Fighter Too!
The victory on Friday night was a great way for Lauzon to keep the good vibes rolling along.
“I’m super happy,” he said. “It was a really rough start to the year, but it’s going smooth now.”
(Follow @KenPishna on Twitter)