John Lineker may be only 23 years young, but the Brazilian flyweight already has 27 MMA fights under his belt, with three of those being in the UFC.
Lineker has two straight wins in the UFC, and he will be seeking a third as he fights Brazilian UFC debutant Jose Maria Tome at UFC 163 this Saturday. With the fight slated to be first on the main card, Saturday night will be a big chance for Lineker to prove himself to the world as a legitimate threat to Demetrious Johnson’s Flyweight belt.
The man known as Mãos-de-Pedra – Portuguese for ‘Hands of Stone’ – has a 21-6 record in MMA, with the first five of those losses coming when he fought at Featherweight. That is two classes above the current weight class the 5’2 Lineker currently fights in.
Since making the move down to Bantamweight, and then to Flyweight, Lineker has certainly found his groove, going 15-1 in his MMA career since making the drop from Featherweight. The drop has helped Lineker become one of the most powerful hitters in the Flyweight division, something seen by his ‘Hands of Stone’ moniker.
It has also been seen by the way he beat Japanese flyweight Yasuhiro Urushitani to a decision back in November last year, and more recently against Azamat Gashimov, who Lineker finished in the second round via a barrage of punches.
Despite his power, unrelenting pressure, youth and all his other upsides, Lineker will not have an easy task ahead of him this Saturday. Some fans may believe otherwise, given that Tome will be making his UFC debut on only a few weeks’ notice.
Those with that line of thinking are likely to be in for a surprise, however. Tome will go into the Octagon with a 33-3 MMA record, with a whopping 28 of those coming via stoppage. On top of that, Tome will also be entering the UFC on a 16 fight winning streak, showing that he is definitely a fighter not to be taken lightly.
Thirteen of Tome’s victories come via submission, which could potentially give him the edge if he and Lineker ever hit the ground. Lineker’s UFC debut was a loss to Louis Gaudinot via guillotine choke, which was also his first loss since 2009.
Mãos-de-Pedra may also be at a disadvantage with his favourite status coming into UFC 163. As he is the seasoned UFC fighter, he is the one expected to come out on top. Tome, on the other hand, has little to lose. The fact that he did the UFC a big favour by fighting on short notice will likely lead to a second UFC fight somewhere down the line, regardless of whether he wins or loses this match up.
Even if Lineker does reign supreme, the calibre of his UFC wins may (wrongly) come into question. His previous wins in the Octagon were over fighters who had no UFC victories, while Tome, as previously stated, is making his UFC debut.
Despite those potential downsides, winning three in a row in a division as shallow as Flyweight will certainly put Lineker in the mix for a top contender spot.
Lineker’s two straight wins give him some momentum coming into Saturday’s main card fight. The method in which he achieved those wins have already begun giving him a small, but growing legion of fans.
Beating Tome will not be an easy task, but the potential rewards that could arise from a third straight win make this bout a highly important one for Lineker.
The sky’s the limit if he is victorious at UFC 163.