John Lineker won his first battle by making weight for his flyweight clash at UFC Fight Night 45, and then he went out and put on a sensational show against Alptekin Ozkilic in Atlantic City. Their remarkable slugfest was an easy selection for Fight of the Night honors, and Lineker emerged as a legitimate title threat in the 125-pound division with his third-round TKO victory.
Both men doled out plenty of punishment during the course of their spirited battle, but it was the vicious body assault from Lineker that would begin to wear Ozkilic down as the bout progressed. Both men landed heavy shots on one another in a back-and-forth affair that tested the resolve and chins of both participants.
“Hands of Stone” continued to land flush shots in the final round and was finally able to finish his opponent at the 4:51 mark of the final frame. Lineker landed a trio of hard left hooks to send Ozkilic to the canvas and would follow up with a few more punches to secure the TKO victory.
Lineker won’t be getting his post-fight wish for a title fight next, as Chris Cariaso has already been tabbed to face flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson at UFC 177. However, Lineker’s performance has significantly raised his stock. It was an impressive bounce-back performance after his decision loss to Ali Bagautinov at UFC 169.
The ongoing saga for the dangerous 24-year-old Brazilian has revolved around his weight issues. Lineker has missed the flyweight mark on three previous UFC appearances, but it wasn’t a problem this time around. He made the 125-pound limit on the very first attempt. The victory over Ozkilic was his fifth Octagon triumph and his fourth by way of knockout. He has notched 13 knockouts in 24 career victories and has never been stopped via strikes.
During his UFC tenure, Lineker’s talent has never been in question; the concern was whether he was able to campaign consistently as a flyweight. With his weight issues apparently behind him, Lineker will be a dangerous assignment for anyone in the division. He’s definitely put himself into the title conversation.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports