It’s crowded at the top of the bantamweight division.
Currently sitting on the division’s throne is pound-for-pound great Dominick Cruz. Directly under him are dangerous contenders like former champion TJ Dillashaw, brick-fisted Team Alpha Male staple Cody Garbrandt, the hard-nosed Bryan Caraway, and the streaking Jimmie Rivera. And then, of course, there’s John Lineker, a long-time contender at flyweight who has recently found new life in the bantamweight division.
This weekend, in the main event of the UFC’s latest trip to Portland, Oregon, Lineker will take on another flyweight-turned-bantamweight in John Dodson.
If Lineker is successful in this fight, he believes he’ll find himself right in the bantamweight title shot conversation.
“I think if I can beat Dodson convincingly, I think that will put me in line for a title shot,” the heavy-hitting Brazilian recently told Fox Sports. “That’s what I think and that’s what I’m going for.”
While he’s optimistic that a win will propel him to the uppermost reaches of the bantamweight division, Lineker admitted that he doesn’t expect to jump the contender ship line altogether. He’s prepared to take another fight in the meantime, and is particularly interested in a bout with Cody Garbrandt, who he was briefly scheduled to fight in February of this year.
“I’ll fight anybody they put in front of me,” Lineker explained. “I know that I have to beat everybody to become champion. I’ll fight Cody any time he wants, but my focus is winning the title and I’ll fight anybody the UFC puts in front of me.”
Lineker’s focus for the moment, however, is entirely on his main event showdown in Portland – a fight he’s confident he’ll win.
“John Dodson is a great fighter, he packs a powerful punch but I believe that I have more power than he does,” Linker explained. “I think it will show [in the fight] and I’ll come out on top.”
Lineker will enter the bout with three-straight bantamweight wins behind him. His first win in the division was a submission win over Francisco Rivera in a truly unforgettable fight. Next was a decision over a game Rob Font. His most recent win, meanwhile saw him level former title challenger Michael McDonald back in July.
Dodson, who fought twice for the title at flyweight and once knocked out former bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw, will look to build on the momentum of a first-round TKO of Manny Gamburyan. If he’s successful in doing so, he’ll move to 2-o in his latest run as a bantamweight, and earn his place amongst the dangerous contenders mentioned above.
Who do you think wins this upcoming bantamweight showdown? Sound off, PENN nation!