On June 14th at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada Dan Lauzon returns to the cage after a year and a half absence to face lightweight John Gunderson at the World Series of Fighting 3. I recently had the opportunity to talk with the Massachusetts native about his return to the cage, the opportunity to compete in the World Series of Fighting and past issues with brother, Joe Lauzon. Dan was extremely candid with me about his struggles, triumphs and his reformed outlook on fighting. From our conversation Lauzon seemed focused, motivated and driven to succeed in this sport he loves, but he went through a lot to get to this point.

Unfortunately, Dan’s year and a half layover wasn’t by choice, but by an unlucky design. You can’t step into the cage if there’s no opponent or event, right? What happens when this situation occurs more than once? Most would throw their hands up in disgusted at the MMA gods as if to say, “Are you f–king kidding me right now?” – it’s likely a career killer. For Lauzon, he saw this setback as an opportunity to train hard and refine his skills.

One of them [a previous event] was actually signed and then the entire show got cancelled. There was probably another four or five other ones that were pretty much done and set with the contracts signed and they fell through or opponents fell through. You know, all the bullshit that happens. I’ve just continued to train and work.

Lauzon’s opponent at WSOF 3 (John Gunderson) has an impressive 27 submission victories in 34 career wins. A stat that would cause any fighter to rethink their strategy going into a fight. For Lauzon, the confidence that comes from an impressive four-fight win streak can help shatter those stat line illusions. Three of the four wins have come by way of knockout, and while Dan’s known for his superior grappling skills – thanks to his hard work, coaches and gym – he’s also added an invaluable weapon to his arsenal of slick tricks, the knockout.

I think I’m pretty well-rounded. I’m going into this fight ready for wherever it goes either on the ground or on the feet, but personally I like knockouts. He’s got a pretty good submission game with 27 submission wins out of 34 [wins], but he’s been submitted six times also. I don’t expect him to want to stand with me. He’s shown he likes to go to the ground so I expect him to take me to the ground. I’ve been training plenty of jiu-jitsu and wrestling and I just don’t think he’s going to want to stand. Like I said I’m comfortable wherever it goes. I want to put him [Gunderson] away as fast as I can. I want to be impressive. It’s not going to be on TV it’s on the prelim but I’m hoping to finish it [the fight] quick so it can make the broadcast. I’m definitely coming out there to make a statement. I’m not the same fighter as I was a year and a half ago. I’m certainly not the same fighter I was when I fought back in the UFC. When I was lacking that dedication and motivation. If that’s what he [Gunderson] expects he’s in for an awakening.

I hope Gunderson’s not sleeping on Lauzon. Dan’s had his fair share of personal demons in the past, but it’s unlikely that those demons have carried over into this current chapter of his life. With a new outlook on his career combined with a strong relationship with brother Joe Lauzon, Dan’s going into his fight on June 14th with a perfect storm of surging momentum moving in his favor.

Me and him [Joe] we’re opposite, we’re brothers. You get in fights, you’ll battle, you get into this and that but we’ve been on good terms for a while now and it definitely strengthens me. Joe’s an excellent fighter When that shit went down it was me, my lack of focus and dedication and everything. I can take the blame for that but that’s not the case now. Me and my brother we have a great relationship, now. It’s been rocky in the past but everything’s good now. He’s coming out with me for the fight and he’ll be cornering me and stuff. I’m looking forward to this I’m in good shape and ready to go. The last two fight I wasn’t as prepared as I wanted to be, but this fight it’s not the case.

A lot is riding on Friday’s showdown against Gunderson. Dan recognizes the big picture potential with the World Series of Fighting and how a win – long-term – could effect the way he prepares for fights down the road. Every fighter’s psyche is different but for Lauzon there’s one way to keep him motivated and dedicated to this sport, and that’s more fights.

I’d like to stay as busy as possible. Providing everything goes my way June 14th I’d like to fight on their [WSOF] next card. I’d just like to stay as busy as possible. When I got something lined up and when I have something to look forward to that’s when I’m at my best. I’m staying motivated, dedicated and working hard. I hope that everything works out with the World Series of Fighting and their around for a while. Hopefully I can grow with them.

(Pic via Scott Peterson for MMA Weekly)