With Mark Hunt injured and out of UFC 146, Stefan Struve will now be taking on Lavar Johnson. The opponent switch comes just a little over a week away from the event, but Johnson and Struve both should be standing on near-equal footing come fight night.
Johnson because he just fought Pat Barry earlier this month, won by first-round knockout and emerged relatively unscathed and in shape.
"I heard last night there was a chance I could get this fight and I accepted right away. I am good to go; I weigh 250lbs and I've for a lot of confidence in my ability right now," Johnson said. "You don't get chances like this too often in life, so when you are lucky enough to get this kind of opportunity you got to make the most of it."
A Strikeforce carryover, Johnson has looked to be a new fighter since signing with the big show, having rebounded from a two-fight skid in that promotion with a two-fight winning streak in the UFC (with two impressive knockouts, no less). Fighting for the world's premier MMA league has inspired Johnson to take things more seriously, which has clearly paid dividends.
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"I took one week off after the Pat Barry fight and then went back to the gym. I used to have some drinks, get some barbeque in my belly and get a little out of shape after a fight, but I feel that I am now at a level where I need to be in shape all the time," he said. "So, I stayed in shape and now I can seize this chance"
And Struve because he was preparing to face Mark Hunt, a heavy hitter who likes to keep things standing. This description could be applied just as fittingly to Johnson and Struve thinks he's too ready for that style to be caught off guard by it, regardless of who's employing it.
"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. 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," said Struve. "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."
UFC 146: Dos Santos vs. Mir goes down next Saturday, May 26, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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