In the UFC 146 PPV opener, Stefan Struve (23-5; 7-3 UFC) faces Lavar Johnson (17-5; 2-0 UFC). This fights kicks off the all Heavyweight UFC 146 main card. Struve is currently the #21 Heavyweight in the world according to the USA TODAY / MMA Nation Consensus MMA Rankings, while Johnson is unranked. The PPV card begins Saturday, May 26 at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT.
As will be a trend in these main card discussions, this fight has seen some reshuffling from the original plan. Struve was first set to face former K-1 champion Mark Hunt here. However, Hunt was forced out due to injury - a move that is sure to sadden his legion of #RallyforMarkHunt fans. Lavar Johnson steps in on a quick turnaround, as he just fought Pat Barry 3 weeks ago. Despite the change, this remains the same stylistic match-up, as Johnson, like Hunt, will look to outstrike and KO the taller Struve.
How do these two stack up?
Struve: 24 years old | 6'11" | 83" reach
Johnson: 34 years old | 6'4" | 81" reach
What have these two done recently?
How did these two get here?
At just 24 years old, Stefan "Skyscraper" Struve is a fighter with a world of potential. With his massive height and a strong submission game, Struve has the potential to be a true champion. But he hasn't yet fully learned how to use that reach to his advantage, leading him to some brutal KO loses in his UFC career. He's a very exciting fighter, thanks largely to his willingness to engage in stand-up slugfests, and while that earns him fans, it diesn't always earn him wins. He's currently riding a nice 2 fight win streak.
Lavar "Big" Johnson is one of the Strikeforce Heavyweights. He went 3-2 in that organization, and there was a clear pattern in his record - all 3 wins via KO, both loses via submission. In the UFC he has two big wins that have immediately elevated him into contender status, and a 3rd straight UFC win over a notable name will only keep his star rising. In a division full of power punchers, Johnson is up there as one of the most powerful, but he still doesn't have a ground game to go with those hands. And at 34 years old, it's unlikely he's going to develop it.
Why should you care?
This has Bonus money written all over it. KO of the Night win for Johnson, Submission of the Night win for Struve, Fight of the Night... who knows? But these two should absolutely bring the goods in a great fight.
More UFC 146 preview coverage from Bloody Elbow after the jump.