Johnson has earned back-to-back Knockout of the Night accolades in his two UFC fights.
Heavyweight Will Meet Stefan Struve in Las Vegas
In wake of a training injury to heavyweight Mark Hunt, Lavar Johnson (18-5) has been named the replacement to fight Stefan Struve (23-5) next Saturday at UFC 146, accepting the bout on just nine days notice and 12 days after stopping Pat Barry at UFC on FOX 3. The match will be part of an all-heavyweight main card in Las Vegas, with UFC Champion Junior Dos Santos defending against two-time titleholder Frank Mir in the feature of the night.
“I heard last night (Wednesday) there was a chance I could get this fight, and I accepted right away,” Johnson stated. “I got the final word this morning. I am good to go, I weigh 250 pounds, and I’ve got a lot of confidence in my ability right now. You don’t get chances like this too often in life, so when you are lucky to get this kind of opportunity, you got to make the most of it.”
While the outing between Johnson and Barry two weeks ago did not make it out of the first round, it was 4:38 of great entertainment. After a brief trip to the canvas, the duo stood up to bang it out, and Johnson hurt his opposition with a right side kick. He then closed in and unleashed a violent series of left and right hooks until Barry was forced to drop to the floor in secession, earning himself his second consecutive ‘Knockout of the Night’ accolades.
“I took one week off after the Pat Barry fight and then went back to the gym,” Johnson continued. “I used to have some drinks, get some BBQ in my belly and get a little out of shape right after a fight. But I feel that I am now at a level where I need to be in shape all the time, so I stayed in shape and I can now seize this chance.”
While the opportunity is huge for Johnson, he also admits that the challenge is just as large.
“Struve is a great fighter,” he remarked. “He’s a skilled guy with a lot of heart, but I am not worried about his size. His reach is 83 inches and mine is 82, and he doesn’t use his height. He always gets the crap beat out of him, he refuses to quit, then his opponent gasses or has to let up, and Struve comes back to win. I am a fan of his, actually, and I’ve cheered for him because of his heart. The only way to beat him is to put him out cold. That’s what I have to do next week, and I will do it.”
Struve also has a win over Barry on his resume, submitting him in the second frame of a bout last October via arm triangle choke. He also says Johnson should be commended for accepting a fight opposite him with such little time to prepare.
“Johnson has looked impressive in his first two fights in the Octagon since coming over from Strikeforce, but I’m gonna look even more impressive next week,” Struve said. “I really want to thank him for stepping up on such short notice - I really wanted to fight on this all-heavyweight card - but he’s gonna face the best Stefan Struve you’ve ever seen. The change in opponent doesn’t bother me at all. Mark Hunt was a big puncher, too, and I have trained too hard for this to affect me.”
Also on the all-heavyweight main card next Saturday will be a showdown between former UFC Champion Cain Velasquez and Antonio Silva, as well as two more heavyweight pairings featuring Roy Nelson against Dave Herman and Stipe Miocic facing Shane Del Rosario.