Lavar Johnson is a professional MMA fighter who currently competes in Bellator. He has also competed for the UFC, the WEC and Strikeforce. Johnson is from Madera, California and was a star football player, attending Madera High School where a coach nicknamed Johnson, "Black Superman." Johnson continued his career excelling as an outside linebacker and strong safety at Merced Community College.
Johnson made his professional mixed martial arts debut in the WEC on January 16, 2004, losing to future WEC light heavyweight champion Doug Marshall by TKO. The bout was somewhat marred by controversy as Johnson was on the receiving end of four low blows over the course of the bout, which was eventually stopped due to exhaustion on his part. A former Toughman Contest veteran, Johnson entered the bout without any training or preparation beyond hitting a heavy bag. He next defeated Levi Thornbrue via TKO, knocked out Fred Diaz with punches at WEC 11 before fighting twice outside of WEC, winning both bouts via first round stoppage. Johnson returned to face Corey Salter at WEC 17, making him submit to strikes in the first round. In Johnson's final WEC fight, he lost to the final WEC Heavyweight Champion Brian Olsen via submission due to a knee injury.
After the loss to Olsen, and because of the knee injury sustained during that loss, Johnson briefly left mixed martial arts to become a delivery driver for Budweiser. Johnson claimed that the cost of his medical expenses, coupled with his inability to train and fight, because of his injury, necessitated that he go get a "real" job. He returned to fighting after a two and a half year layoff, with a submission loss to Alijah Reni
He went on to defeat his next four opponents via first round stoppage, before being signed by Strikeforce. Johnson made his Strikeforce debut against Carl Seumanutafa, knocking him out with a punch 18 seconds into the first round.
Johnson was shot on July 4, 2009 while at a family reunion. Johnson returned to action in March 2010 at Strikeforce Challengers: Johnson vs. Mahe where Johnson won by TKO. Johnson went on to fight in Bellator and Strikeforce before making his UFC debut on January 28, 2012, defeating Joey Beltran via first round KO at UFC on Fox: Evans vs. Davis earning the Knockout of the Night bonus award.
Johnson returned just over three months later for his second UFC fight, defeating fan-favorite Pat Barry by first round TKO at UFC on Fox 3 where he was awarded his second consecutive Knockout of the Night bonus.
Johnson replaced an injured Mark Hunt on ten days' notice and was defeated by Stefan Struve on the main card of UFC 146 via submission due to an armbar in the first round.
Johnson fought Brendan Schaub on February 23, 2013 at UFC 157. Schaub defeated Johnson via unanimous decision. Johnson was subsequently released from the organization after a post fight drug screening revealed elevated levels of testosterone. His fighting license was suspended by the California State Athletic Commission until November 23, 2013. Johnson admitted he was undergoing testosterone replacement therapy but had not disclosed this on his pre-fight medical questionnaire.
Following his release from the UFC, Johnson signed with Bellator MMA. He debuted in the fall of 2013 in the Heavyweight tournament as he faced Vinicus Queiroz on October 4, 2013 at Bellator 102. In a surprising upset, Johnson was stopped by one punch just 23 seconds into the fight, marking the first time he had been knocked out in his career.
Johnson returned to the Bellator cage in March 2014 as a participant in the Bellator Season 10 Heavyweight tournament.
Johnson faced Ryan Martinez in the opening round at Bellator 111 on March 7, 2014. He won the fight via knockout in the first round.
Johnson faced Blagoy Ivanov in the semifinals at Bellator 116 on April 11, 2014. He lost the back-and-forth bout via submission in the first round.
Johnson faced Cheick Kongo on September 5, 2014 at Bellator 123. He lost the fight via rear-naked choke submission in the first round.
On April 29, 2016, Johnson was sentenced to five years in prison for an August, 2015 assault.