When Strikeforce began to import their heavyweights into the UFC, Lavar Johnson was riding a two-fight losing streak. In both bouts, he was submitted on a Challengers event, and in neither did he make it out of the second round.
Last night, however, Johnson made us forget all about his Strikeforce troubles, as he improved his UFC record to 2-0, when he dispatched of kickboxer Pat Barry in less than one round.
Although Johnson has heavy hands and a solid chin, the striking game of Barry was expected to be too much for the 34-year-old fighter out of AKA. Now that Johnson has shown fans around the world that he can compete with the best strikers that the division can offer, here is a look at some fights that we would like to see "Big" take next.
The only thing really holding this bout back is the tendency of Joe Silva to pair winners against winners and losers against losers.
Griggs is a powerhouse striker who is another Strikeforce import. He is known for his glorious mutton chops and his TKO victory over former WWE superstar Bobby Lashley back in 2010.
His fan-friendly style will go well with that of Johnson, and the two would likely engage in a contender for both Fight of the Night and KO of the night.
Maybe I have a thing for seeing the Strikeforce guys go toe-to-toe inside the Octagon. Sue me.
Shawn Jordan made his UFC debut back in March against strongman Oli Thompson. The contest was an entertaining slugfest in which Jordan was able to outstrike his opponent for a TKO victory.
There is a some history between these two, as Jordan and Johnson squared off last September in a Challengers card. Jordan would secure a keylock for the victory in the last half of the second round.
With an entertaining style and most of the UFC heavyweights booked for other fights, this rematch could be a good fit for both fighters.
With the recent announcement that Travis Browne will meet Ben Rothwell at UFC on FOX 4, both of these guys are in training. Unfortunately, injuries occur, and Rothwell has been bitten by the injury bug a couple of times during his career.
If for any reason one of these fighters is forced out of their planned bout, Johnson would prove to be an excellent replacement.
Both of these pairings represent a major step up in competition, but Johnson is a hungry dog who is ready to eat. If he proves capable of swimming in the deep end, we may have a contender on our hands.
I know. I know. We are back to the winner versus loser thing. However, there are always exceptions to the rules, and with most of the heavyweights coming off of wins already fighting at UFC 146, I expect to see the heavyweights abandon this style of fight making for the next couple of months.
Brendan Schaub was once flirting with title contention when he met Big Nog in Brazil. Two losses later, and he is staring down the barrel of a gun.
A fight with Johnson would be an enjoyable contest between two heavy-handed heavyweights who are fighting to prove themselves. Schaub needs to prove that he can still hang in the UFC, and Johnson wants to prove that he is the real deal.
One heavyweight on the UFC roster who is without a dance partner is former title contender Gabriel Gonzaga. Gonzaga was originally scheduled to compete at UFC 146, but has been removed from the card due to injury. When he returns, a matchup with Johnson would prove to be an interesting test for both men.
Johnson has struggled against submission fighters, tasting defeat four times via tapout. Meanwhile, Gonzaga has had trouble against heavy-handed strikers, falling to Junior dos Santos, Brendan Schaub and Shane Carwin.
Each man would see the opportunity to show off his own game, while earning a little bit of retribution against a fighter who represents his Achilles heel.