Lavar Johnson will try to rebound from his first loss in seven bouts. | Photo: Dave Mandel
Devin Cole (18-9-1, 0-1 SF) vs. Lavar Johnson (15-4, 3-1 SF)
The Matchup: Johnson’s career will go as far as his takedown defense and anti-grappling will carry him. Thus far, there have been flashes of awesomeness when he can connect with his huge punches and woeful stretches of being outwrestled when opponents plant him on the mat.
Cole, who served as gatekeeper in the International Fight League, definitely looks outmatched on the feet here but should have the kind of priorities -- takedowns or die -- that show whether or not Johnson can set up his strikes and use positioning and angles to do so without being taken down.
Cole may well have the wrestling and top control to fatigue Johnson, who tends to come unraveled when ground down in long stretches from the position -- a common issue with strikers who fatigue quickly when frustrated. However, his booming hands are massive equalizers. Look for Cole to show some middling standup, at best, before attempting a shot.
The Pick: Cole is pretty durable and has excellent grappling cardio, so he can ply his advantages on the mat without necessarily landing great ground-and-pound. That should be enough, with some scares thrown in by Johnson’s huge right hand and power, for Cole to grind out a late stoppage in the third round.
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