John Lineker
Hands of Stone
Rescheduled for Fort Lauderdale
BantamweightUFC
March 14, 2019
Lineker (ribs) will take on Cory Sandhagen in a bantamweight matchup at UFC Fort Lauderdale on April 27, Aaron Bronsteter of TSN.ca reports.
ANALYSIS
This matchup was originally scheduled for the first-ever card on ESPN+ in Brooklyn, but fell through after Lineker was forced to withdraw due to a ribs injury. He'll be cleared to compete again a few months later, looking to put his two-fight winning streak on the line against the 3-0 prospect. This has the makings of a fan-friendly fight, as Lineker likes to press forward, and both men have above-average numbers when it comes to volume striking. Lineker had a big fantasy day with 102 significant strikes and a stoppage his last time out, but his three prior fights have gone to the judges. On the other hand, none of Sandhagen's first three bouts have seen the final bell.
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Bows out of UFC Brooklyn
BantamweightUFC
January 10, 2019
Lineker has withdrawn from his scheduled fight against Cory Sandhagen at UFC Brooklyn due to a rib injury, Ariel Helwani of ESPN reports.
ANALYSIS
It's unclear when Lineker suffered the injury or how long it will keep him sidelined. With the event taking place in just nine days, it could be difficult to find a replacement for Lineker in time.
Victim of UFC 233 cancellation
BantamweightUFC
December 12, 2018
Lineker will no longer face Dominick Cruz at UFC 232 on Jan. 26, as the event has been cancelled according to a report from Ariel Helwani of ESPN.
ANALYSIS
While it's a tough break for Lineker, this fight had been in jeopardy due to reports earlier this week that Cruz was going to have to withdraw due to injury. Cody Garbrandt had apparently been considered as a replacement, but that option was passed over due to Garbrandt recovering from a hand injury, per John Morgan of MMAJunkie.com. Now, the next step for Lineker is up in the air. He's looking to work his way back into title contention with back-to-back wins since his loss to T.J. Dillashaw, and regardless of the next step, Lineker is likely to run into a top contender soon.
Sets fight against Cruz
BantamweightUFC
December 5, 2018
Lineker will take on Dominick Cruz at UFC 233 on Jan. 26 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, Clyde Aidoo of MMA News reports.
ANALYSIS
Lineker will come into this fight boasting a 31-8 career mark, including eight victories in his last nine bouts. Most recently, he bested Brian Kelleher via KO (punch) at UFC 224 in Brazil back in May. "Hands of Stone" topped Marlon Vera prior to that outing and is arguably looking for the biggest win in his UFC career when he steps into the cage in January. The 28-year-old appears to be closing in on a title shot and a win over Cruz would go a long way in making that goal a reality. This will mark Cruz's first fight since December of 2016 when he lost to Cody Garbrandt, as he's dealt with various injuries over the past two years.
Closing in on title shot after win over Brian Kelleher
BantamweightUFC
May 12, 2018
Lineker defeated Brian Kelleher via KO (punch) at 3:43 of Round 3 at UFC 224 on Saturday in Rio de Janeiro.
ANALYSIS
The first 106 significant strikes that Lineker threw couldn't get the game Kelleher out of there, but the 107th, a vicious left hook, finally did the trick. Lineker pounds the body about as well as any fighter in the sport and Saturday was no exception. The only reason the fight lasted as long as it did was due to Kelleher's toughness. Lineker was landing and landing with authority throughout the course of the fight. Now sporting an 8-1 record in his last nine fights, Lineker isn't far away from earning a shot at the UFC Bantamweight Championship.
Returns against Brian Kelleher in Rio
BantamweightUFC
March 27, 2018
Lineker (tooth) will take on Brian Kelleher at UFC 224 on May 12 in Rio, MMAFighting.com reports.
ANALYSIS
Lineker was last scheduled to face Jimmie Rivera in a high-profile fight at UFC 219 on Dec. 30, but was ultimately forced to withdraw due to a tooth infection. He was originally the replacement for Dominick Cruz (arm) in that fight. Now ready to enter the Octagon again, Lineker will now be pinned against an unranked bantamweight that is 3-1 in the UFC. Sitting as a top-10 bantamweight himself, Lineker has much to lose and little to gain with this matchup. Nonetheless, Lineker likely wishes to stay active after a quiet 2017 with just one fight (he fought four times in 2016). The Brazil native should also have his come crowd behind him in this bout.