UFC On Fox 3 looks to be a promising card, filled with great matches. There are a few bouts I'm looking forward to with great anticipation, and one of those features Lavar Johnson and Pat Barry. Both are coming off impressive, knockout victories, and are standup fighters, so this has all the makings of a real crowd pleaser. TapouT Radio recently caught up with Lavar to talk about his preparation for Pat Barry and how he sees their fight unfolding.
*Note: Interviewer is Evan Shoman of TapouT Radio, my co-host. When I don't conduct these interviews by myself, I just put "Interviewer" to eliminate having to bounce back and forth between three different names.
Interviewer: Pat's a technical kickboxer, and you're a banger, so how do you see this fight going down?
Lavar Johnson: I see me knocking him out in the first round. I know he's a tough guy, and I'm a fan of his. I've watched a lot of his fights, and he's dangerous, but I feel I match up very well with him. I've got the reach on him, I think I'm stronger than him and I just think I'm going to be too much for him.
Interviewer: There's a very distinct size differential between the two of you, but Pat's competition has almost always been bigger than him. Do you feel that anything else besides size will be a deciding factor in this fight?
Lavar Johnson: I think leverage will be key here. Pat's 5'11, but the last time I seen him in NY, he weighed 258 pounds, so he's a big boy. I think my height and leverage is where i'm going to have the advantage, in the clinch and just the standup, period. When the hands get to flying, i'll definitely have the reach on him.
Interviewer: Joey Beltran had never been knocked out before you. It's even been said that he had one of the most solid chins in MMA. Does that give you extra confidence going into this fight?
Lavar Johnson: With Beltran, I knew that I was a better athlete than him, so it was just a matter of time before I landed on him. That's how I like to fight, and I know that's what the fans like. I like to stand in there, and bang with whoever is in front of me. If I get knocked out, I get knocked out.
We're heavyweights, and nobody wants to see two big guys rolling around on the ground, tussling. They want to see somebody get knocked out and go to sleep. That's what I try to do. Keep it standing and put on the best performance I can.
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Interviewer: Does it make you proud to see how well all the WEC guys are doing in the UFC now?
Lavar Johnson: Yeah, it does. The WEC was a great organization. I had my first fight there, and many others. It was a good show with a lot of talented fighters. You could go to Lemoore and see UFC fighters, PRIDE fighters and local fighters all getting down. You got a lot of bang for your buck with those shows.
Interviewer: How do you feel about fighting in New Jersey?
Lavar Johnson: I like New Jersey. I've fought there before against Shane del Rosario in Strikeforce. It was in the winter time, but now it will be a little warmer. The fans are great and they get into the fights. It's good. It's a live crowd.
Interviewer: You're the first fight on the main card. Do you like being able to go out there and kick that off with a bang?
Lavar Johnson: I would prefer to be the first fight from the beginning of the event, just to get in and get it over with, and then enjoy the rest of the fights. For them to put me on Fox means that they're standing behind me and that they do have faith in me to put on a good show. I'm going to go out there and give it my all.
Interviewer: How are your nerves before a fight? Paul Buentello and Brandon Vera are known to throw up before most of their fights. Do you ever have issues like that, or are you just as cool as a cucumber?
Lavar Johnson: Actually, I pulled a Paul Buentello this last fight [laughs]. It was my first fight in the ufc and I was a little nervous, so I threw up before the fight.
Interviewer: Had you ever done that before with any of your other fights?
Lavar Johnson: No, that was the first time. The outcome was great, though, so maybe I'll throw up for this next one, too [laughs]. Seriously, I think I'm good to go this time.
Interviewer: What a re the odds that this will be a grappling match of epic proportions?
Lavar Johnson: [laughs] Not gonna happen. I see him trying to take me down. He said he's not going to cut his hair until he gets a submission, so it looks like he's going to be having a ponytail for a little bit.
Interviewer: You train with Carter Williams. How's he looking these days?
Lavar Johnson: He's the same old K-1 champ, I think. He's kicking hard, because every time we spar, I've got a dead leg at the end, and it takes a few days to come back from that, but I'm getting used to it and checking it more. He's fast. Faster than me with his hands, and he puts everything together. I'm getting a really good look from him.
He's on the grind now, and is actually doing jiu jitsu tournaments and stuff. He's trying to get back in the mix. He's dedicated, and he's working hard. He's pushing me and i'm pushing him. We've gotten some really good sparring matches in. It's almost like I've fought Pat Barry 100 times already.
Interviewer: With the fight just a little over a week away, are you winding your camp down, and just focusing on your cardio for this final stretch?
Lavar Johnson: No, I'm still working hard. I'm pushing it double time. My body feels good. Usually, when fighters come to this point, they slow down so there's no injuries or anything, but I'm feeling really good. I still got a lot more to go in the tank, so we're just doing as much work as we can before I fly out. I'm going out four days before the fight, so from there, I'll relax, focus on cardio, and hit the mitts, but that's about it. I feel good, and I'm ready to go.
Follow Lavar via his twitter, @LavarJohnson