Everyone's favorite heavyweight, Mark Hunt, has been pulled from UFC 146 because of injury. The 8-7 fighter was the man the fans wanted to replace Alistair Overeem in the heavyweight title fight at UFC 146 against Junior dos Santos, but the promotion went with Frank Mir instead. That is the best news right now, because the last thing the UFC needed was to lose another main event, especially less than two weeks away.
Hunt was scheduled to face the Skyscraper, Stefan Struve, but now, Lavar Johnson will get that fight. Johnson is 17-5 in his professional career and is 2-0 in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He had lost two straight fights in Strikeforce, but has found his punch again since joining the premiere MMA organization in the world.
The 23-5 Struve has been one of my favorite fighters since he came into the promotion, but hasn't lived up to the hype just yet. He is still improving each time he steps into the Octagon, but each time he gains any momentum or gets into any sort of streak, he falters. He is 7-3 in the UFC, with each of the past two losses coming after two-fight win streaks in the promotion. He is currently on another two-fight streak and will need to alter his preparations from dealing with Hunt, opposed to Johnson.
Johnson last fought on May 5, earning a TKO victory against Pat Barry, which makes me think he should be fine. When he steps into the Octagon against Struve, I would be more worried for him if the fight lasted past the first round. In 22 career fights, he has reached a second round just four times, which makes me wonder how his conditioning would be.
I have no doubt in my mind that Johnson has the talent to beat Struve, but with such short notice, is he prepared? Is he one of those fighters that is always working out in the gym, just waiting for a phone call, or does he take a break after each fight. That may be the true deciding factor of this fight.
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Hobson Lopes has been a fan of mixed martial arts since the days of Tank Abbott and can be followed on Twitter @HobsonLopes.