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08th Apr 2018

MMA corners could learn a lot from Joe Lauzon’s this weekend

There's such a thing as too tough

Darragh Murphy

What’s to gain from letting a legend go out on his shield?

Some young fighters feel the need to prove their toughness to the world but Joe Lauzon accomplished that a decade ago.

In combat sports, there’s nothing sadder than seeing a durable fighter’s body finally give out and we saw that on Saturday night when Lauzon’s corner had to step in and save him from further punishment against Chris Gruetzemacher.

Opening up the UFC 223 main card, Lauzon was a betting favourite against Gruetzemacher who, up to this weekend, had only one UFC victory to his name.

Lauzon sprinted out of the traps, possibly with the knowledge that his 33-year-old body no longer had what it took to absorb three rounds of damage.

But it became very clear midway through the opening frame of the lightweight contest that Lauzon was going to struggle as he became a glorified punching bag for ‘Gritz’.

Gruetzemacher wasn’t head-hunting by any means as he mixed up shots to Lauzon’s torso and face, where years of scar tissue showed themselves in a crimson mask.

‘J-Lau’ refused to go down, however, and he continued to fire back in spite of the beating he was enduring.

After two rounds, with referee Dan Miragliotta taking a hard look at the pulverised face of the Boston native, Lauzon’s corner did something that we don’t see often enough in mixed martial arts.

There was nothing to prove, the risk wasn’t worth the inevitable loss of brain cells and Lauzon was, quite simply, saved from himself.

Contrary to popular corner belief, rescuing fighters is allowed in MMA and it should be done when it’s obvious that the inevitable outcome will be life-changing head trauma.

We’ve often seen coaches watch their fighters’ careers shorten in front of their eyes because they didn’t want to damage their pride.

These fighters are not robots. They are humans with families to care for long after they hang up their gloves.

Saving them from their own gameness ought to be encouraged and Joe Lauzon might not like it right now but when he’s 70 years old and able to speak clearly to his grandchildren, he will probably view Saturday’s decision differently and pick up the phone to his former coaches to thank them for their logic and humanity.