Six months ago, Lavar Johnson lay in a hospital bed, clinging to his life after he was gunned down while attending a family barbeque during the July 4 holiday. On Friday, March 26, the 32-year-old will enter a new chapter in his incredible recovery when he restarts his professional mixed martial arts (MMA) career in the main event of a STRIKEFORCE Challengers fight card at Save Mart Center in Fresno, California on Friday, March 26.
The heavy-handed Johnson (13-3), a 6-foot-4 inch, 250-pound resident of nearby Madera, will face off with another highly touted prospect, undefeated Lolohea Mahe (4-0-1) of Wailua, Maui in the STRIKEFORCE cage.
“My health is great and I’m almost back to where I was,” said Johnson. In his last start in the cage, Johnson crushed Carl Seumanutafa in just 18 seconds with a single punch at the first-ever STRIKEFORCE Challengers event at Save Mart Center on May 15, 2009.
After being struck down by the gunfire that also led to the death of a cousin, Johnson, a father of two boys, ages eight and five, spent one month in hospital care and lost approximately 60 pounds.
Months of physical rehabilitation followed and, one month ago, Johnson was cleared by a physician to return to training with trainer Jasper Tayaba and Team Buhawe in Fresno
“(The experience) made me realize how fragile life is and that every day I’m here is a blessing. It has also made me take MMA more seriously.”