Like tonight’s main event between Junior dos Santos-Frank Mir, the UFC 146 PPV card’s opener featuring Lavar Johnson–Stefan Struve features a pair of heavyweight finishers facing off with each possessing an opposing style. Struve holds an overall record of 23-5 with 21 stoppages including fifteen submissions; Johnson is 17-5 with fifteen TKOs and no decisions in the bunch. Likewise, four of Johnson’s five losses have involved a submission and four of Struve’s stumbles have been the result of strikes.
When it comes to their clash Johnson understands Struve is a threat on the ground due to his lanky limbs, though he’s not necessarily concerned about being forced to tap.
“I don’t have much respect for my ground game, but I came out here to fight,” Johnson joked in an interview with Fuel TV after the weigh-ins. “If it goes to the ground I think I’m good enough to get back up and keep it standing. I don’t think Stefan really wants to take it to the ground (anyways). He has a lot of confidence in his stand-up and I think he wants to come out and test his tools, see what’s going on, and put on a good show.”
While Struve’s stand-up has also earned him a number of victories Johnson has no reservations about engaging with him even if the 24-year old Dutchman’s arms were recently re-measured at 84.5 inches, tying him with light heavyweight champion Jon Jones for the longest reach in the UFC.
“My reach is not too far off,” responded Johnson to the challenge, mentioning his reach was in the 82-inch range. “And I think I use my reach a little bit better. I think I’ll be able to get in and put a couple of scratches on him at least.”
Struve-Johnson kick the PPV off at 10:00 PM EST as the first of five heavyweight tilts.
Watch the complete interview below including Struve’s responses:
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC