The latest challenger for standout flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson could very likely be found this weekend at UFC 169 when Ali Bagautinov battles the hard-hitting John Lineker. “Puncher King” has been a welcome addition to the 125-pound weight class and has been one of the Russian fighters making positive waves within the organization. Bagautinov is 2-0 inside the Octagon, and the Russian Combat Sambo specialist looked outstanding in his last fight earning a unanimous decision victory over Tim Elliott at UFC 167. Bagautinov has made a quick entry into the top-10 rankings and could be in line for a possible title shot if he can get by the dangerous Lineker. He possesses crisp striking and a strong ability to finish fights with nine knockouts and submissions in 12 career wins.
While Bagautinov’s striking ability is impressive, Lineker’s power is on a whole different level. It’s probably why the UFC has stood by “Hands of Stone” despite a poor track record when it comes to making weight for his bouts. He’s missed the 125-pound limit on three occasions including most recently at Fight Night 30. The heavy-handed Brazilian is riding a four-fight winning streak and looked outstanding in hammering out Phil Harris in the first-round of their fight in England. It was Lineker’s 11th career knockout but again the performance was overshadowed by the weight issues. He will need to be on point when it comes to the scales this time around or the organization’s patience will be severely tested.
With both flyweights having a track record of producing action and both having the type of power that can end fights this should be an outstanding matchup. The winner will most likely head to the top of the ladder when the organization looks to find its next opponent for “Mighty Mouse.”
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports