He was most recently set to face Terry Etim at UFC 118 but Etim suffered an injury a few weeks before the fight and Gabe Ruediger, a former castmate of Lauzon's from TUF, replaced him. Lauzon destroyed Ruediger in the best performance of his career, mercifully finishing him with an armbar exactly two minutes into the very first round.
Lauzon took a big step up in competition with a quick turnaround to face contender George Sotiropoulos in November at UFC 123. With a victory, Lauzon would be the closest to number-one contendership in his UFC career since his fight with Kenny Florian. After weathering an early storm, G-Sot finished a gassed Lauzon with a brutal kimura submission.
After taking some more time off, Lauzon faced British fighter Kurt Warburton at UFC 132. He defeated Warburton via first-round kimura submission.
After defeating Shane Roller, highly-touted contender Melvin Guillard called Lauzon out. Lauzon agreed to the bout. Lauzon defeated Guillard via upset rear-naked choke submission in just forty-seven seconds. He really rose to the challenge and stepped into the top ten.
Lauzon was next called out by former WEC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis. Again, Lauzon promptly accepted the challenge to face Pettis in the UFC's return to Japan. This time, it was not a good idea. Pettis knocked Lauzon unconscious in the first round with a high kick.
Lauzon next signed again to face British fighter Terry Etim, two years after they had been originally set to fight at UFC 118. Shortly before the bout was set to take place, Etim was again injured. This time he was replaced by former WEC lightweight champion Jamie Varner.
Lauzon and Varner put on a Fight of the Year candidate, going to war for nearly three full rounds. Varner was ahead in the fight until Lauzon caught him in a triangle choke forcing Varner to tap out. Lauzon earned a Submission of the Night bonus for the victory.
Lauzon next signed to face fellow contender Gray Maynard in December 2012. Maynard was injured and replaced by veteran Jim Miller. Miller defeated Lauzon via a bloody close unanimous decision. Lauzon spent the next several months recovering from "substantial scar tissue" and targeted a summer return to the Octagon.
After recovering Lauzon did indeed sign to return in his hometown of Boston against fellow TUF veteran Michael Johnson. Johnson scored a huge upset victory over Lauzon, peppering him with hard combinations of punches en route to a dominant unanimous decision. It was the worst loss of Lauzon's career as he took a lot of punishment and gave next to nothing back. For the first time serious murmurs of the necessity of Lauzon's retirement began to float about.
Instead Lauzon next signed to fight fellow declining veteran Mac Danzig. Lauzon put on a good performance to earn his first decision win with a unanimous score on all cards.
After taking some time off for the birth of his son -- and his son's subsequent and successful fight against cancer -- Lauzon signed in June 2014 to fight Michael Chiesa. After an exciting fight, Lauzon defeated Chiesa via a second round doctor stoppage TKO after opening a cut over Chiesa's eye with a knee.
Lauzon next stepped in to replace an injured Norman Parke against fellow TUF veteran Diego Sanchez in what was sure to be a fight of the year candidate. Lauzon himself was injured and the fight itself was scrapped.
Lauzon next fought Al Iaquinta losing via a brutal second round technical knockout after being ruthlessly battered by Iaquinta.
Lauzon took some time off before signing to return to fight former Pride lightweight champion and fan favorite Takanori Gomi in what was sure to be a fun fight. Lauzon dominated Gomi en route to a first round TKO victory, stopping the fight himself.
He wasted little time in next signing to fight fellow veteran Evan Dunham. Dunham defeated Lauzon via a clearcut and methodical unanimous decision.
Lauzon looked to rebound against fellow veteran Diego Sanchez at the landmark UFC 200 event, handing the ever-durable Sanchez his first career TKO (strikes) loss in a mere minute and a half.
Lauzon next signed to make a quick turnaround in a rematch of his bloody 2012 loss to Jim Miller. Miller defeated Lauzon via a close, exciting and controversial split decision.
After a little bit of time off Lauzon next signed to fight Bellator veteran and leglock specialist Marcin Held in what was sure to be an intriguing and exciting matchup.
- Joe Lauzon vs. Ivan Menjivar - The fast-paced fight was ended with a victory for Ivan Menjivar, utilizing the rare calf slicer submission.
- Joe Lauzon vs. Antoine Skinner
- Jens Pulver vs. Joe Lauzon - The fight was Lauzon's UFC debut.
- Joe Lauzon vs. Jason Reinhardt - Thirty-eight-year-old Jason Reinhardt came in undefeated, and it was his UFC debut.
- Kenny Florian vs. Joe Lauzon
- Joe Lauzon vs. Kyle Bradley - The fight was Kyle Bradley's lightweight debut.
- Joe Lauzon vs. Gabe Ruediger - Gabe Ruediger came in on short notice replacing an injured Terry Etim.
- George Sotiropoulos vs. Joe Lauzon
- Joe Lauzon vs. Melvin Guillard
- Anthony Pettis vs. Joe Lauzon
- Joe Lauzon vs. Jamie Varner - Jamie Varner was a late replacement for an injured Terry Etim.
- Jim Miller vs. Joe Lauzon 1
- Joe Lauzon vs. Takanori Gomi
- Evan Dunham vs. Joe Lauzon
- Joe Lauzon vs. Diego Sanchez
- Jim Miller vs. Joe Lauzon 2 - The decision loss for Joe Lauzon was considered extremely controversial.