Joe Lauzon file photo: Dave Mandel | Sherdog.com
Cowbells and prelim breakdowns are two things the world could always use more of. It is with that absolute truth in mind that I’m lacing up a custom-made preview for the prelim lineup of UFC 118 “Edgar vs. Penn 2.”
The best part, of course, is that we’ll be treated to two bouts getting the special Spike TV treatment and that usually sets the table for a night full of prelims making the live cut. So it is with fingers crossed and ladders carefully avoided that another round of essential knowledge gets your mind right for Saturday evening.
Joe Lauzon vs. Gabe Ruediger
A rib injury during training camp for Terry Etim has now set the table for an altogether unexpected return to the UFC for exiled “The Ultimate Fighter” alumnus Ruediger. Best known for his weight-cutting follies in the reality realm, he now gets a chance to prove his worth against sturdy lightweight gatekeeper Lauzon.
It’s a chance likely to go squandered, as Ruediger has hardly set the world on fire in the four years since his lone Octagon appearance. While he has picked up some quality wins against middle competition, he remains a one-note grappler with decent, but hardly great, submission skills. Lauzon is far from being a multi-talented wizard, but he is a markedly better ground-shark than “Godzilla.”
Even in a standup fight, Ruediger doesn’t have much hope since his game on the feet is no more refined than Lauzon’s skills. If there is something that separates these two in exchanges, it’s that Lauzon has a bit of pop and reach to spare, which should be plenty to make Ruediger either uncomfortable or unconscious. It seems odd to say that Lauzon could beat someone on the feet, but Ruediger just isn’t a UFC-quality fighter.
However, this fight is going to come down to who wins on the mat and that is a game that is in Lauzon’s favor against most of the lightweight division -- Ruediger included. A much better scrambler and far more aggressive about pursuing submissions, Lauzon has the kind of rapid-fire approach that Ruediger’s more methodical style seeks to avoid. Ruediger doesn’t have the lockdown top control to keep the poorly monikered “J-Lau” from imposing his pace.
Once the fight reaches that pace, a submission win for Lauzon is academic. Good thing too since the UFC lightweight division is far too deep and dynamic to have retreads taking up space that should be reserved for the multitude of quality prospects out there.