UFC on Fox turned out to be a marquee fight card, not only for the organization, but for Joe Lauzon especially.
Each winner of the four main card fights won in their own trademark style. Mike Swick came back with a fan-friendly knockout. Lyoto Machida gave an elusive performance punctuated by a quick and understated KO. And Mauricio Shogun Rua fought another eye-popping war of attrition, this time winning by TKO.
But the picture perfect performance of the night was Lauzon's Brazilian Jiu Jitsu clinic against a very game opponent in Jamie Varner.
Through three rounds, Bridgewater, Massachusetts' "J-Lau" showed the beauty and effectiveness of Jiu Jitsu positioning, mixed with a healthy dose of MMA striking. He transitioned seamlessly from attack to attack until Varner simply fell one step behind.
No doubt, Varner was in this fight from the beginning, dropping Lauzon twice along the way to fight of the night honors. But the obvious difference was in Lauzon's Jiu Jitsu, which additionally earned him the submission of the night award.
Round one was dominated by boxing attacks from both fighters, until Varner sat Lauzon on the ground with a right hand. Lauzon's instincts, though, brought him straight to full guard and right into an attack with an inverted arm lock. Lauzon then rolled for an armbar just before the round ended.
Round two saw Lauzon defend Varner's guillotine attempt, then transition straight to Varner's back and attempt a rear naked choke. In a different melee, a trip led Lauzon to side control and ground and pound. Varner was able to get up to a clinch, but Lauzon reversed pressure to throw him to the ground and slip to back mount, then full mount, attempt an arm triangle, slip to back mount, then slide off the front to another armbar attempt.
Lauzon's finishing sequence in round three involved a guillotine to a half-butterfly sweep, to a half-back mount, then a gorgeous transition to a triangle. Even when he was tested, "J-Lau" showed that Jiu Jitsu is so engrained in his DNA that he can snap to the nearest position without conscious thought.
When Lauzon is fighting on the ground, he doesn't latch on, he doesn't hold anyone down, and he doesn't take a breather. You can pause you DVR at any point and be able to tell what technique he is going for. Students of BJJ for MMA should look to him as one of the best examples in the UFC.
Lauzon's performance shows that good Jiu Jitsu is in the transitions. BJJ is not about muscling a guillotine until you finally cut off a man's blood supply or lose all strength in your arms. BJJ is about linking your positions and movements, staying several step ahead of the action, and being ready to set and spring a trap at any moment. This mentality is what keeps Lauzon truly dangerous.