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UFC 144 Preview: Joe Lauzon/Anthony Pettis and Hatsu Hioki/Bart Palaszewski

MMAFrenzy kicks off our main card coverage of UFC 144 with a pair of breakdowns of Saturday’s card. Each day we will breakdown a pair of fights leading up to our breakdown of the UFC lightweight title fight between Ben Henderson and champion Frankie Edgar. Today’s feature previews two main card matchups, with a lightweight battle between Joe Lauzon and Anthony Pettis, along with a featherweight showdown between Bart Palaszewski and Hatsu Hioki.
Keys for Joe Lauzon (Chris Leslie):

It seems that the sure way to seal a Lauzon win is to bet against him. For some reason, that seems to be the key. However, that’s not the only reason for his success.

Lauzon has improved his striking greatly over the years but it is in his best interest to keep Pettis tied up through clinch work on their feet and using top control BJJ to control the posture of Pettis. Doing so would not allow Pettis to use his very impressive guard but it can also also Lauzon to try for his own submissions.

If Lauzon can dictate the pace of the fight, look for him to be getting his hand raised this Saturday

Keys for Antony Pettis (Bryan Robison):
When looking over Joe Lauzon’s career, the fighters that put a loss on his record are the ones that can make it through the first round. Lauzon is a quick starter, and is able to overwhelm many of his opponents.
This is something Pettis cannot overlook, as he has not had a fight that failed to make it to the third round in nearly two years.
We saw a different Pettis in his most recent fight, a victory over Jeremy Stephens at UFC 136 in October. He was much more calm and easy in the Octagon compared to what we had gotten used to from Pettis. He showed more wrestling than he had ever displayed before. Is that a sign of the “new” Pettis, or was it a style tailor made to defeat Stephens? That is to be determined.

Concerning Lauzon, Pettis is not as decorated in Jiu-Jitsu, but he can hold his own. He has a strong triangle choke, so he is able to fight offensively off of his back.
But he would be best served keeping the fight on the feet, where he can methodically attack Lauzon, and gradually wear him down. While another “Showtime Kick” is unlikely, “Showtime” does have an opponent who will be willing to strike with him

Keys for Bart Palaszewski (Chris Leslie):
The breakdown for this one is pretty simple. The longer this fight stays standing, the more likely Palaszewski is to pull out the victory. Palaszewski has a lot of power in his hands and that needs to be what he tries to decide the fight with. The real x-factor here is whether his hands can hold up over the fight. Palaszewski has had multiple hand breaks over the years and those never really go away. If this fight drags on, that could be a big thing to watch.

Keys for Hatsu Hioki (Bryan Robison):
Hioki did not have an impressive debut in the UFC. This has become a pattern for many Japanese fighters that transition to the cage.
While he has not been overly dominating over the last few years, Hioki brought a strong reputation over with him as he fought George Roop in his UFC debut last October. He was able to escape with a split decision win, but was not overly impressive.
Now Hioki fights another dangerous fighter in Bart Palaszewski. In order to win, Hioki will have to make it look very similar to his first fight. Unfortunately for Hioki, Palaszewski has even stronger striking than Roop, and also has a strong submission game.
In order to get a win in his home country, Hioki will need to be much more aggressive than he was against Roop. Palaszewski certainly will be looking for ways to expose Hioki on the feet.
While “Bartimus” is strong in Jiu-Jitsu, he can be taken down and overpowered, which is something Hioki will look to do.

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