Bout 'makes sense' for fighters Schaub, Johnson
By NEIL SPRINGER, Special to the QMI AGENCY
|Lavar (Big) Johnson, (right), and Brendan (The Hybrid) Schaub are scheduled to fight in the final preliminary bout of UFC on FOX 5 in Seattle Dec. 8. (REUTERS)
As far as Brendan (The Hybrid) Schaub is concerned, Lavar (Big) Johnson is one of the most intimidating fighters in the UFC heavyweight division.
The Strikeforce veteran is known for his devastating KO power, having picked up vicious knockout wins over Pat Barry and Joey Beltran since debuting with the world’s largest MMA organization.
While some fighters may be less than thrilled to face the dangerous slugger, Schaub took the other approach and called him out.
“He’s one of the scariest guys out there ... he’s probably the hardest hitter in the division,” Schaub said over the phone. “He fancies himself a striker and so do I. It’s a fight I think a lot of people want to see. It’s a fight that excites me and it’s a fight that excites fans.
“With Lavar, he’s such a heavy hitter, so it just makes sense to me. It’s just a great opportunity to showcase my skills. Lavar thinks he’s a good striker and I think I’m in a different class than him.”
With his target set, Schaub opted to challenge Johnson during interviews and through Twitter, rather than wait for a fight offer from the UFC.
“I like to control my destiny a little bit,” Schaub said. “I could sit down and wait for Joe Silva, who’s obviously a great matchmaker, to make the call. I have no idea how long it was going to take for him to make a fight. I didn’t have a fight lined up and neither did Lavar.
“In this day and age things are kind of run by social media and interviews. So I got on Twitter and went about it that way — Twitter and through interviews. It gets the message across.”
The UFC took notice and the two are scheduled to fight in the final preliminary bout of UFC on FOX 5 in Seattle Dec. 8. Though Johnson’s power is always a threat, Schaub said he is the more skilled stand-up fighter.
“If it was 1993, Lavar would dominate,” Schaub began. “He’s a brawler, heavy hitter — you know what he brings to the table. But I consider myself a true martial artist. I just think speed and technique go a long way when you’re fighting a guy like Lavar — you box a brawler.
“For me, when I look back on my career, I can say I didn’t take the easy route. Lavar’s no different. This is not going to be an easy fight. This isn’t going to be a quick fight, but I can guarantee the judges can take the night off when Lavar and I enter the octagon.
“If you don’t think this fight is going away with one of those bonuses, you’re crazy.”
For Schaub, a win over Johnson represents the opportunity to make a statement and get back on track. He was riding an impressive four-fight win streak — including victories over Gabriel Gonzaga and Mirko Filipovic — before suffering a KO loss to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 134 on Aug. 27, 2011. He returned eight months later, but was knocked out by Ben Rothwell.
Schaub said his losses were the result of getting emotional inside the cage.
“I’m too passionate and have too much fight in me,” Schaub said. “I go out there and kind of see red. That’s not my style. I have a lot of skill — I can kind of do it all. I’m a smart dude, so for me to fight like that, it puts the ball in both our courts and whoever can get that shot in will win. I’m a skilled fighter and it doesn’t make sense to do that.
“It’s about being more relaxed, more calculated, more professional — not going in there and just looking for a knockout in the first minute. I’ve kind of made my career off doing that and that’s why I think I have so many fans. But at the same time, you’ve got to be smart about it. It’s more about being a sniper than a bazooka.
“Experience goes a long way. Over my last six fights you’ve heard me say the same thing, but experience is priceless. I’ve taken two huge hits. I’ve learned from both of them and I think you guys will see that Dec. 8.”
With consecutive losses on his record, Schaub knows he’s in a must-win situation. But this is hardly a uncharted territory for him. The Ultimate Fighter season 10 finalist said he enters every fight with the mindset that a loss means getting cut from the UFC roster.
“It’s professional sports — your back is always against the wall,” Schaub said. “If Peyton Manning threw 12 interceptions in Sunday’s game, his job’s going to be on the line. It’s professional sports.
“If you don’t think your back is against the wall and you’re not trying to finish fights and make them exciting, you’re not going to last long. To me, it’s just another day in the office.”
— Bellator 82 goes down Nov. 30 in Mt. Pleasant, Mich. The card will be headlined by this season’s welterweight-tournament final between Lyman Good and Andrey Koreshkov. Canadian fans can stream the event on Spike.com.
— Bellator 83 is set for Dec. 7 in Atlantic City, N.J. Rad Martinez faces Shahbulat Shamhalaev in the finals of this season’s featherweight tournament and former bantamweight champ Zach Makovsky returns against Anthony Leone.
— UFC on FOX 5 takes place Dec. 8 in Seattle and features a lightweight-title fight between Benson Henderson and Nate Diaz. Also, Alexander Gustafsson takes on Mauricio Rua and Rory MacDonald meets B.J. Penn.