If you didn't know who Lavar Johnson was four months ago, you definitely know who he is now.
After suffering back-to-back losses in Strikeforce to Shane del Rosario and Shawn Jordan, some eyebrows were raised at the surprise that Johnson would be drafted into the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) ranks coming off of consecutive defeats.
Making his Octagon debut on Jan. 28, 2012, at UFC on Fox 2: "Evans vs. Davis," "Big" made his presence felt right away by becoming the first man to knockout the tough as nails Joey Beltran in the very first round with some brutal and precise uppercuts that sent "The Mexicutioner" crashing to the canvas.
After that, Johnson was thrust into the spotlight as he made his way onto the main card of the UFC on Fox 3: "Diaz vs. Miller" event, garnering exposure he never dreamed of while competing in Strikeforce. Just in case anyone thought his debut performance was a fluke, Johnson followed up his debut performance by displaying his powerful striking yet again and knocking out kickboxing specialist Pat Barry in New Jersey, also in the very first round.
Just three weeks removed from his latest victory, the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA)-trained fighter is stepping right back into the Octagon on short notice to replace the injured Mark Hunt as he takes on the towering Dutch Heavyweight Stefan Struve at this weekend's (May 26, 2012) UFC 146 event from Las Vegas, Nevada.
So what can fans expect when Johnson steps into the Octagon against the tallest heavyweight on the UFC roster? Pretty much more of the same fans have been accustomed to seeing from the heavy-handed brawler throughout his mixed martial arts (MMA) career.
He said as much at today's UFC 146 open media workouts (via MMA Weekly):
"It's going to be hard to top that (recent performances), but my style of fighting is that I like to win by knocking my opponent out or TKO, so, I'm going to go in there and do the same thing and just try to put on a good show. I didn't have much time to really prepare for a ground game or anything like that. I do my basic training. I train to get up and stay out of submissions. I'm not trying to submit nobody. My fans don't want to see me submit anybody, they want to see me knock somebody out, so that is basically what I train for."
Struve, who is riding a two-fight win streak of his own, has proven that he himself that is a heavyweight on the rise with his skill set than can earn him a victory on the feet as well as on the ground. At UFC on Versus 6: "Cruz vs. Johnson," "Skyscraper" submitted the aforementioned Pat Barry via triangle armbar, solidifying him as a legit threat once the fight hits the mat.
But can he do the same to Johnson who says he really hasn't focused on his ground game? Or will the two big men thrill fans with a stand up affair that both have proven they don't mind engaging in?
One thing is certain, the probabilities that this fight going to the judges scorecard is highly unlikely, seeing as how "Big" has yet to go the distance in any of his fights and his last nine victories have come by way of (technical) knockout.