Johnson to face Struve at UFC 146
The all-heavyweight UFC 146 main card has undergone another change, but is still just as big.
Lavar Johnson, coming off his Knockout of the Night victory over Pat Barry at "UFC on FOX: Diaz vs. Miller" on May 5, has accepted a fight with Stefan Struve, replacing the injured Mark Hunt on the UFC 146 main card set for May 26. The UFC announced the fight Thursday.
The fight will be Johnson's third in 2012, having kicked off the year with a Knockout of the Night win over Joey Beltran in his UFC debut after previously fighting under the Strikeforce banner.
"I heard last night there was a chance I could get this fight, and I accepted right away," Johnson said. "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."
Johnson (17-5), taking the fight on 10 days' notice after fighting just 12 days prior, said the quick turnaround won't be a factor for him.
“I took one week off after the Pat Barry fight and then went back to the gym," Johnson said. "I used to have some drinks, gets 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."
Struve (23-5) enters the fight having also won his previous two. Struve submitted Barry in October and defeated Dave Herman in February by TKO. "The Skyscraper," who stands at 6-foot-11, was excited about the shake-up and his new opponent.
“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.”
Johnson said he wasn't concerned about his giant-sized Dutch opponent.
“Struve is a great fighter. He’s a skilled guy with a lot of heart, but I am not worried about his size," Johnson said. "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.”