(Chad Griggs: Funkiest white man alive. / Photo by Esther)
Two of Strikeforce’s hardest-hitting heavyweight prospects are getting some good news this Christmas* season. According to new reports, Chad Griggs and Lavar “Big” Johnson have inked contracts with the UFC, meaning that they’ll still have jobs after Strikeforce disbands its big-man division next year.
Though he’s perhaps best known for his incredible muttonchops, Chad “The Grave Digger” Griggs (11-1) has gone on a three-fight tear under the Strikeforce banner, beating up Bobby Lashley last August at Strikeforce: Houston, then scoring back-to-back first-round stoppages against Gianpiero Villante and Valentijn Overeem in Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix reserve bouts this year. The Arizona native hasn’t lost a fight since April 2007. The date and opponent for his next fight are still TBA, but Griggs is expected to make his Octagon debut in early 2012.
It was also revealed that Lavar Johnson will be moving to the UFC, with his first match coming against Joey Beltran on the prelims of UFC on FOX 2 (January 28th, Chicago). Johnson’s UFC signing is somewhat surprising since he’s been submitted in his last two Strikeforce fights against Shane Del Rosario and Shawn Jordan. Nevertheless, Beltran vs. Johnson should be an entertaining slugfest, made more significant by the fact that the loser’s job is almost certainly on the line. Beltran most recently lost a unanimous decision against Stipe Miocic at UFC 136, and has dropped three of his last four outings.
* I can comfortably say ‘Christmas’ here instead of ‘holiday’ because I’m positive these two cats aren’t Jewish. In fact, it’s pretty damn rare to find a member of the tribe in this sport. Side note: I wanted to put together a “Greatest Jewish MMA Fighters” list in honor of Hanukkah, but then I learned that The Fight Nerd already did that last year, and even he had to include three boxers and Moti Horenstein just to make an even eight.