Dan Lauzon has the biggest fight of his life in less than two weeks and things are in complete disarray.
When the East Bridgewater native takes on Efrain Escudero at UFC 114 on May 29 in Las Vegas, he’ll do so without three longtime coaches in his corner.
Lauzon’s brother, Joe Lauzon, trainer Joe Pomfret and boxing coach Steve Maze all have decided not to travel to the fight.
“This is going to be the first fight I don’t have them in my corner,” Dan Lauzon said last week. “They’re not going to be there to support me. It (stinks). I don’t really know what I did to deserve this. I wouldn’t do that to anybody. I wouldn’t do that to my brother, I wouldn’t do that to anyone in my gym. It’s not right.”
With no time to switch camps, Dan Lauzon has had the awkward experience of finishing his training at Lauzon MMA, which is owned by his brother. After this fight, he plans to move on.
“I think I’m going to be pretty much looking for a new gym and new coaches to train with,” he said. “People I can actually count on and rely on and not somebody that’s going to halfway through a camp say, ’Hey sorry, you’re going out there alone, good luck.’ ”
Lauzon scrambled to find new cornermen and will have WEC fighter Josh Grispi, “Ultimate Fighter” alum John Clarke and training partner Brandon Chase with him in Las Vegas.
Though the relationship between the siblings is obviously strained, Joe Lauzon isn’t giving up on his brother. He said that when fight night arrives he’ll wish he was in his brother’s corner, but he said it was necessary to make a stand.
“We’ve always been there with him and we’ve always stuck by him, but he’s not helping himself,” Joe Lauzon said. “Hopefully this makes him turn it around and realize that he has to be professional about it and do the right thing.”
Dan Lauzon (12-3) already was dealing with immense pressure because a loss would put his UFC future in jeopardy. He lost his UFC debut in 2006, returned to the local circuit and worked his way back to the sport’s leading organization. He lost his return fight on Jan. 2 and is in desperate need of a win.
“Don’t think I’m laying down for this fight and I’m not looking forward to the fight,” Dan Lauzon said. “I’m definitely looking forward to the fight. I’m going in there and I’m going to fight, but it just (stinks). It’s not the way I wanted everything to happen for this fight going into it.”
The reason Lauzon’s cornermen aren’t making the trip is a point of contention.
Reportedly unsatisfied with Lauzon’s commitment to training, his coaches told him a month ago they wouldn’t make the trip if there wasn’t improvement. Joe Lauzon said they clearly outlined what was expected and his brother fell short.
“He trained better than he did before (the ultimatum), but he still didn’t fulfill everything we wanted him to do,” Joe Lauzon said. “We said you need to train 10 or 11 times a week, and he didn’t do that. I don’t think he’s done that one time.”
Dan Lauzon disputed that account, saying that no specific guidelines were ever presented to him.
“In my eyes, I was doing everything right,” he said. “I was making it to the gym; I was training hard two times a day. I was doing everything right. I was completely blown away.”
Having such problems so close to a fight would be a major issue for any fighter. But considering the depths of the relationships, it’s been even more difficult.
Pomfret has been Dan Lauzon’s trainer since he began practicing jiu-jitsu nine years ago. Maze has worked with him since his first fight when he was 18.
“They were saying to me, ’I understand that you’re mad at us,’ ” Dan Lauzon said. “I told them, ’I’m not mad. I’m hurt.’
“Joe Pomfret is somebody I look at like a father, and he is going to do this to me? You’re going to tell me you can’t (work my corner) and you’re sending me out to Vegas alone for one of my biggest fights?
“I was completely hurt by it, especially my brother Joe. I don’t think anybody would ever do that to their brother. I can’t think of anyone else that would ever do that to their brother and just tell them, ’Hey, you’re on your own.’ ”
Joe Lauzon, 25, and Dan Lauzon, 22, each described their personalities as polar opposites. Though they get along, they frequently butt heads, particularly when it comes to training.
“Me and Joe are black and white,” Dan Lauzon said. “We’re just complete opposites in everything.”
Dealing with family can be really tough sometimes. When you mix business and family… it’s an absolute nightmare. You make a tough decision and its cold. You go easy on someone and they are only treated that way because they are family. I am usually tough on Dan, but it’s because I love him and want what’s best for him. I know that me being easy on him in training is not going to help him when there is someone across the cage from him trying with everything they have to hurt him.
I always push Dan hard when it comes to training. In my eyes, and in the eyes of our coaches, Dan has never put in an honest training camp. He has strung together 3 or 4 good weeks here and there… but never anything any longer. It’s always him rushing at the end to cram a 12 weeks camp into 3. Then injuries and other things pop up and it doesn’t go so well. When he was fighting locally, he would get away with it. At the UFC level, that just doesn’t cut it.
With Dan, it’s always “something”. You have never seen someone that has no job because they are a “full-time fighter” that trains less. There is a list a mile long of things he has to do… but training is usually way down the list. If it’s not that he is too busy… it’s him getting a new tattoo in the middle of training camp… which either doesn’t let him train or greatly limits what he can do. This has happened for nearly half a dozen fights in a row now.
As coaches, we noticed the pattern right away and tried everything to change it. We would try and stay on his ass about training and that didn’t work. We would try positive reinforcement and that didn’t work. I tried to get him to come out to Hawaii with me for 3 weeks to train with BJ Penn and that didn’t work.
When Dan was 14 to 17, he trained like a mad man. He was in the gym all the time, but he is 22 now and that fire he once had is long gone. When he is in the gym, he comes in and works hard. He does a great job helping guys with technical things and teaching more subtle things as well. Unfortunately, he is never in the gym. If he has a fight, he is in sparingly. If he doesn’t have a fight he is an absolute ghost.
When we heard about the fight with Efrain, we knew Dan had to be in great shape. Efrain is a cardio machine and would not stop pushing until the fight was over. Dan had to be in great shape. When I am not training for a fight, I am in the gym at least 6 times a week. I double up when getting ready for a fight and we expected Dan to put in the same time. We told Dan we needed him training 10 or 11 times a week, just like I do. Hardly too much to ask for someone that trains full-time as a professional.
Dan was training at our place 3 or 4 times a week… and 2 or 3 of those times were boxing and the other was MMA. He would say he was going to other schools to train too, but the stories didn’t always check out. He would say “oh, I went to so and so last night and had great work with so and so”. I would double check and they would tell me “I was there all night and Dan definitely” wasn’t there. We would confront Dan on it and he would confess and say “okay, I didn’t train but I didn’t want you on my ass about it”. Other times he would actually go, but wouldn’t go and train hard. He would just go and roll around and take it easy. There are times to go and train hard and times to take it easy. Dan was blowing off hard nights at our place for easy nights at another places. It wasn’t that there weren’t good guys there… there definitely were… he just wasn’t pushing himself. I have amateur fighters that train way more than Danny.
Now we gave Dan an ultimatum. Joe Pomfret, Steve Maze and I knew we all had to act a single unit. This was all or nothing and we all used the same language and tone with him so there was no misunderstanding. We were very clear that if he failed to train 10 or 11 times a week, we were not going to corner for him. It’s not fair that we all make time for him in Vegas when he can’t do his job beforehand and train. This all happened maybe 10 or so weeks out from the fights. We were clear and beat the point into the ground so there was no misunderstanding.
In the past, Dan had complained that I was too forceful with what he should be doing in training. He said I was too much and we would constantly fight. I had tried everything else, so I told him I was going to stop being such “an overbearing dickhead” and I would let him do his thing and wouldn’t harp about training or anything. About a week later I was just asking him what he was doing, as opposed to telling him what he should be doing and he threw the “overbearing dickhead” comment in my face. I said “my bad” and I backed off.
Well… weeks went by and Dan has upped his training a little bit… but I would say on his best week he was training around 6 times a week… but he averaged closer to 4 times a week. I don’t think he hit 10 times once in any given week. I don’t think he even hit 8. This was better than he had been doing prior… but definitely not fulfilling what we had said we needed. Therefore, in all of our eyes, we were not going to corner for him.
April 20th comes around and we are 5 weeks out from the fight. The UFC calls and asks who the corners are because they are going to book flights. Dan asks Steve Maze what day he wants to fly out… and that Joe and I are going. Dan then asks Joe Pomfret what day he is flying out… and that Steve and I are both going. Then he calls me and asks me the same thing… and says Joe Pomfret and Steve both said they were going. Now when he told each of us this… we all knew it was BS because we had been talking with one another to make sure we were all on the same page when this question came from Dan. We all told him, we were not going. This was just under 6 weeks out from the fight.
From that point on he trained at my gym less and less and wouldn’t even talk to Joe Pomfret. He would talk to me because he had to at family stuff, but that was about it. He still worked out with Steve Maze boxing but things were very distant from that point on. He says he didn’t know we weren’t going… even though it was apparent he wasn’t living up to his end of the bargain.
We never wanted to hurt Dan and we all want him to win. We had to take a such a tough stand though because he refused to change. We had exhausted every other option and this was the only thing left for us to try. This has been the most frustrating task of my life… because you can’t help someone that won’t help themselves. When you run around town telling people you are a professional fighter in the UFC… you have to train like one. I had really hoped Dan would see the situation for what it was… but it’s all twisted and he just has a delusional view of things.
I didn’t want to come out with this at all. I wanted it to be quiet and was hoping Dan would win the fight and see the mistakes and get back on track. To be honest though, I am a little relieved. I am so sick of lying to people when they ask how Dan’s training is going. All I could say was “Dan is doing good… he is training hard”. I should have been saying “I don’t know… I never see him in the gym”. I wish none of this even came out… but it did and I am disgusted by him dragging all of our names through the mud. I have bent over backwards for Dan and opened so many doors and helped him out so many times. Joe Pomfret has treated Dan like his own son and no one has done more for Danny that that guy… and Danny acts like this. It’s all pretty disappointing… but thats how it goes.
I wouldn’t put up with any of this with anyone else at my gym, and I am no longer putting up with it with Dan.