As Zuffa moves forward on its plans to fold Strikeforce
's heavyweight division into the UFC
, the company announced Tuesday that Lavar Johnson
will be the next Strikeforce heavyweight to set foot in the Octagon.
Johnson will fight Joey Beltran
at UFC on Fox 2 on January 28 in Chicago.
The hard-punching Johnson won three straight fights on Strikeforce Challengers cards in 2009 and 2010, but this year he lost to Shane Del Rosario in an alternate bout in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, then bounced back down to Challengers and lost to Shawn Jordan. He's in a must-win situation at UFC on Fox 2, and so is Beltran, who has lost three of his last four.
The UFC also made a few other fight announcements on Tuesday afternoon:
-- Featherweight Erik Koch
has suffered an injury and is out of his planned UFC 143 fight against Dustin Poirier
. Koch and Poirier are two of the best young featherweights in the sport, and that fight should have been a big one. The UFC will seek a replacement to fight Poirier.
-- The 5-0 Brazilian prospect Caio Magalhaes has been signed and will make his Octagon debut in his home country against Fabio Maldonado
at UFC 142
. Maldonado had previously been scheduled to face Stansislav Nedkov, but he was forced to withdraw from the fight.
-- John Albert, a bantamweight who competed on the most recent season of The Ultimate Fighter and beat Dustin Pague in the Finale, will return and take a step up in quality of competition when he takes on Ivan Menjivar
at the February 15 UFC on Fuel TV card in Omaha.