MMA veteran Stefan Struve will no longer get to fight Mark Hunt at UFC 146, since the latter has been pulled out of the fight card due to a knee injury (torn meniscus). Lavar Johnson – who defeated Pat Barry on May 5 – will be Hunt’s replacement, but he’ll only have a week to prepare for his May 26 showdown against Struve.
Given Hunt’s accomplishments over the years, Struve was looking forward to their encounter, but he’s just as excited about facing Johnson.
“As it turned out, Lavar Johnson is every bit as exciting for me as Hunt was, credit to him for stepping up to the plate,” Struve wrote on his UFC 146 blog. “All in all, Lavar is a big, strong guy who likes to stand and punch, and he’s also far easier to take down than Hunt. I truly believe Mark has better takedown defense than Lavar, and that makes it a fun fight for me. … In the end, it doesn’t matter who they put in front of me – the fight is still just three rounds of five minutes. Nothing changes. I’m not suddenly being asked to fight ten rounds of ten minutes.”
Johnson struggled a bit in the grappling department against Barry – who is a mediocre grappler at best. But he did find a way to get back on his feet, stopping Barry shortly after. He’ll be in for a slightly tougher fight against Struve, but he does have the tools needed to secure the victory.
Stefan Struve will have a significant reach advantage when the two meet inside the Octagon, but he definitely doesn’t want to get into a slugfest with a heavy-handed puncher like Lavar. Struve’s best bet will be to drag Johnson to the ground, where he can take advantage of his superior grappling skills. Given the fact that Struve has a 75 percent completion rate on his takedowns, the odds are in his favor as long as he doesn’t get caught with any big shots.
David is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and boxing practitioner who has watched and studied MMA for the past 9 years. Send him your questions @davidkingwriter.