Former Strikeforce heavyweight fighter Lavar ‘Big’ Johnson will have his second fight in the UFC this weekend at UFC on FOX 3 versus Pat Barry. It has been a long road for the heavy hitter but he is now being rewarded for his patience & perseverance.
During the summer of 2009 Lavar’s life took a dramatic turn. He was at a family reunion & along with several other family members became a victim of a reckless dangerous act. According to the police a male in his late teens approached Lavar & some of his family members and fired randomly at the crowd.
Lavar was struck in the abdomen & seriously injured. He was in hospital shifting between serious & critical condition for a time but slowly recovered & miraculously made it back to training to continue his MMA career.
On March 26, 2010 he made his return to Strikeforce & defeated Lolohea Mahe via TKO in the 2nd round. His long road back to MMA had ended. Lavar still had larger aspirations & continued his path.
After winning his next fight with a 1st round knockout over Virgil Zwicker, Lavar was presented with another bump in the road. This time it was in his professional career when he faced another up & coming heavyweight Shane del Rosario. Lavar was tapped out in the first round with an armbar. He then came back to fight Shawn Jordan but was submitted with a keylock in the second round.
A new opportunity came to him when Strikeforce was purchased by Zuffa and UFC President Dana White stated that all heavyweights would be moved into the UFC. Even though Lavar was coming off two losses a major opportunity was given to him by becoming part of the largest MMA organization in the world.
At UFC on FOX 2, Lavar Johnson debuted in his new home against the iron chin of Joey Beltran. Beltran had never been knocked out in his long MMA career. That all changed when Lavar defeated him 4:24 into the first round with a devastating punch earning knockout of the night honors.
Lavar now takes his next step in his resurgence in MMA. He will take on fan favorite & fellow heavy hitter, Pat Barry. Lavar will have a height & reach advantage but as we have seen in previous Barry fights, that doesn’t always matter. Barry is undersized for a heavyweight & always has this disadvantage in a fight. With Lavar training at American Kickboxing Academy there is no doubt he will be prepared & have Barry well scouted.
With the knockout of Joey Beltran, Lavar proved to the MMA community he has great power in his hands & will no doubt try to use that against Barry. Barry can hit hard but with the large reach advantage & ability to finish anyone on his feet, Lavar Johnson will look to take another step up the heavyweight ranks with another knockout of the night bonus.
The fact he is alive & able to fight is a victory on its own. Everything he does now is just icing on the cake as he feels blessed to do what he does. That doesn’t mean he will settle with what he has. Lavar Johnson is hungry & wants to make his way to the top. This Saturday is the next step in his incredible journey.
Written by Mike McPhee
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