UFC 146: Mark Hunt out with Injury, Stefan Struve to Face Lavar Johnson

Vince Carey@@vcareymmaContributor IMay 17, 2012

Photo Credit: Esther Lin/MMA Fighting
Photo Credit: Esther Lin/MMA Fighting

As incredible as it sounds, the UFC 146 main card has taken another major hit.

Many fans were looking forward to a striking war between Stefan Struve and hardcore fan favorite Mark Hunt, but a knee injury forced the latter out of the bout.

Stepping into his place will be the hard-hitting Lavar Johnson, who will fight for the second time in less than 30 days when he steps into the cage with Struve on May 26.

Johnson is on an impressive two-fight win streak since entering the UFC, with knockout wins over tough veterans Pat Barry and Joey Beltran. He earned Knockout of the Night bonuses in both bouts and will get a chance to earn another against "The Skyscraper."

Johnson is taking this fight on a little more than a week's notice, and he weighed in on his opponent after the fight was announced:

Struve is a great fighter. He's a skilled guy with a lot of heart, but I am not worried about his size. His reach is 83 inches and mine is 82, and he doesn't use his height. He always gets the crap beat out of him, he refuses to quit, then his opponent gasses or has to let up and Struve comes back to win. I am a fan of his, actually, and I've cheered for him because of his heart. The only way to beat him is to put him out cold. That's what I have to do next week and I will do it."

Also riding a wave of momentum is Struve, who is currently riding a two-fight win streak after taking out Barry and Dave Herman over the last few months. He is looking to move into title contention within the year.

Many fighters would think twice about fighting Johnson on 10 days' notice, but Struve didn't hesitate and was just grateful he gets to remain on the card:

Johnson has looked impressive in his first two fights in the Octagon since coming over from Strikeforce, but I'm gonna look even more impressive next week. I really want to thank him for stepping up on such short notice,—I really wanted to fight on this all-heavyweight card—but he's gonna face the best Stefan Struve you've ever seen. The change in opponent doesn't bother me at all, Mark Hunt was a big puncher, too, and I have trained too hard for this to affect me."

Struve vs. Johnson will go down on May 26 at UFC 146 as part of an all-heavyweight main card.


Quotes provided to Bleacher Report MMA via UFC.