News flash: Lavar Johnson hits hard. Really, really hard.
After making an explosive Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) debut back at UFC on FOX 2, knocking out the tough-as-nails Joey Beltran in the very first round with powerful bombs, "Big" followed up that performance with an equally impressive destruction of Pat Barry at UFC on FOX 3.
Both highlight reel knockouts earned Johnson consecutive "Knockout of the Night" bonuses and certified his reputation as of one of the hardest hitters in the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA).
As Johnson prepares to face Brendan Schaub this weekend (Feb. 23. 2012) at UFC 157, his confidence in his hands won't let him underestimate his opponent and says despite losing his last two fights via knockout, Schaub might bring his chin with him to Anaheim and says it could very well be "The Hybrid" putting him to sleep come fight night.
‘Big' breaks it down to UFC.com:
"I think Brendan is very athletic. He's got good cardio, well-rounded, I've heard he's pretty decent on the ground, and he likes to stand and bang. I'm expecting him to come out and try to stand up and bang a little at least. But I think he's going to try and take it to the ground from there once he feels the power. I think he got his brown belt not too long ago, so, most definitely if I was him, I would use that. He's fast, so I would use my speed, use my hands to try and get in and shoot and try and take me down. If he even makes it to then [a takedown attempt]. I've seen him get hit by ‘Big Ben' with a slapping left hook and that knocked him out. ‘Big Country' clubbed him on the side of the head and knocked his lights out. And, ‘Big Nog' knocked his lights out too. I think I hit harder than those guys. We'll see what happens. Most of my finishes are by knockout and most of his losses are by knockout. The odds are going in my favor, but it doesn't always work that way. The best fighter doesn't always win in MMA. It's a tricky sport. Who knows, maybe he'll bring his chin that day and end up sleeping me. You never know. That's why we have these fights. It is what it is and he's going to get what he wants on the 23rd."
While Lavar has all the faith in the world in his striking, he does recognize he has a weakness in his ground game that needs plenty of tweaking as evidenced by his loss to Stefan Struve at UFC 146 via first-round armbar.
And while he admits he isn't big on jiu-jitsu, he has made an effort to "pick it up."
The former Strikeforce heavyweight slugger who says hitting hard just comes natural, will more often than not, rely on his fists to get the job done and when he steps into the Octagon this Saturday night, Schaub's best bet would be to be on the lookout for Lavar's powerful haymakers, as opposed to any submission attempts.
But, in the unpredictable sport of MMA, you just never know what a fighter will pull off when the cage door slams shut.