May 26th will see the UFC return to Las Vegas with their all heavyweight main card in support of the Heavyweight title tilt between Champion Junior Dos Santos and Frank Mir. Slugger Mark Hunt was forced to pull out of his match with Stefan Struve due to an injury, and has been replaced by Lavar Johnson.
This is an interesting matchup, in terms of both guys have weaknesses that play into the other guy’s strengths.
Johnson is coming off a win against Pat Barry, where he came in as the underdog. He weathered a bit of a storm and then took it to Barry, knocking him out. Johnson is a big puncher, and Struve has a chin that is very questionable. Johnson is going to have to hit Struve. The X-factor for Johnson is the height on his opponent and that he may be trying to hit him at angles he isn’t comfortable with. Lavar though, has thunder in his hands, and he is definitely going to want to hit Struve.
Struve is a solid technical fighter, and if the fight goes to the ground, he will likely score a submission victory. The trick is getting it to the ground.
I don’t think Struve is going to shoot in the traditional wrestling style, as it will be difficult for him to get under Johnson and deep enough to get the takedown.
However, Struve will likely try to tie up and clinch with Johnson as he works to stay away from the punching power of Johnson. With a good tie up, the possibility of getting a trip and landing on top increase a great deal.
On the ground, Struve is clearly the more polished and technical fighter, and he should be able to take Johnson out.
The bout is likely to be a pick em or near pick em fight when the odds come out, and that sounds about right. I feel pretty good about laying a bit of money down on Johnson, unless he were to go to a favorite. I suspect the public will lean towards Struve however, and should Johnson become an underdog, I think there is good value there. As good a fighter as he may be, Struve has a chin of glass.