The UFC 146 event will feature all heavyweights on the main card and in this preview we will be previewing the Stefan Struve vs. Lavar Johnson match that’s set to take place on Saturday night in Las Vegas. It’s an interesting matchup between a relatively young guy in Struve against an older fighter in Johnson that’s really hitting his stride late in his career. A win here will be big for either fighter in the pecking order of the fluid heavyweight division. Let’s see how this one breaks down.
Stefan Struve (23-5) comes into this bout off a TKO win over Dave Herman back in February which was his second consecutive win and the fourth win out of his last five fights. Struve is unique in that he’s the tallest heavyweight in the division as he towers just under seven feet tall. He’s versed in submissions as he has 15 wins via that method, but loves to stand and bang it out often taking way too much damage in his fights. In fact, all three of his UFC losses have come via KO against heavy hitters in the UFC division.
Lavar Johnson (17-5) comes into this bout off a TKO win over Pat Barry earlier this month which was also his second consecutive win in the UFC. Johnson has never allowed a fight to go to the judges and this fight will probably be no different as both fighters like to finish their opponents. Johnson is a big heavyweight with a brawling style that heavily depends on him connecting with a big punch to put his opponents away. He often does as 15 of his wins have come via TKO/KO. He is vulnerable on the ground though as evident in his fight against Pat Barry, as a more skilled fighter on the ground would probably have finished Johnson in those positions.
This will be a fun fight to watch. Struve was originally scheduled to face Mark Hunt, so stylistically it’s pretty much the same fight for Struve. How will Johnson look taking the fight on such short notice? He did fight just a few weeks ago and the fight ended pretty quickly without him suffering any major damage. As I mentioned, Struve comes forward and basically blocks punches with his face most of the time and has fallen victim to guys that hit like a truck. Johnson is quite capable of putting him away if he lands. I’m wondering how Johnson will deal with the reach disadvantage, but Struve doesn’t use his reach and length well at all in his fights which makes me give Johnson a slightly higher percentage of winning.
Realistically, Struve should win this fight by being the smarter fighter with more tools, but anytime you deal with heavyweights that have this type of KO power you have to at least give them a puncher’s chance of winning. I give Johnson a slightly higher chance than that, but if Struve is able to get him to the ground he should be able to submit Johnson with ease.