UFC Fight Night 96 pits two of Bantamweight’s heaviest hitters in a main event fight that will determine the next contender in the making.
With both Cody “No Love” Garbrant and T.J Dillashaw campaigning for a title shot, the time is ripe for the next contender to make his case. On Saturday, October 4th, John “The Magician” Dodson and John “Hands of Stone” Lineker will face off in an attempt to throw their names into the mix on the back of a devastating knockout.
The Fight Night 96 main-eventers have always kept an extremely close eye on one another dating back to their time at Flyweight. Lineker was basically forced to move up to Bantamweight in 2015 after missing weight several times (despite his success in the octagon).
Dodson made the voluntary move to 135 lbs after his second loss to Flyweight Champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson. With little hope for a third chance at the belt, Dodson made the smart decision to test himself at a heavier weight – with the added benefit of a smaller weight cut. While their moves to 135 lbs were spurred on by different circumstances, one thing has remained the same. Two of the hardest hitting Flyweights are now two of the hardest hitting Bantamweights.
Lineker has been making a nice home for himself at 135 winning three in a row, two of which were finishes in the first round. Dodson too won his Bantamweight return by first-round knockout beating the perennially tough Manvel Gamburyan.
In their respective fights both athletes displayed their most apparent attributes; blind power for Lineker and lightning speed for Dodson. I think its safe to say that apart from a variety of match-ups combining Cruz, Garbrant and Dillashaw, the Dodson/Lineker fight is perhaps the most existing one in the entire division.
Lets get into specifics. I think it is safe to conclude that Dodson has the advantage in both speed and technical striking. Likewise, the man with “Hands of Stone” probably has the edge in brute force and grappling prowess. While Lineker has more experience than Dodson, he hasn’t fought the same caliber of opponent. Dodson has also never been finished whereas the Brazilian has lost three by submission. More so than with any other match-up; this fight depends entirely on the American’s game plan.
John Lineker has fought every one of his fights the same way. He bites down on his mouthpiece and throws looping hooks until his opponent falls at which point he jumps on a submission or finishes with strikes.
Should Dodson go the Francisco Rivera route and indulge the ATT fighter I have no doubt in the outcome. But I don’t see Dodson doing something so reckless especially when he has some of the best MMA minds in his corner. The Jackson/Wink gym will undoubtedly have an extremely good plan of attack – hopefully proving that the whole Condit/Maia game plan of throwing elbows after being taken down was either a fluke or a lie. I believe Dodson will use superior in and out movement, speed, and clean striking to touch up Lineker before delivering a devastating blow.
To the extent that Dodson avoids an all out brawl I like his chances. If however Dodson lets his ego get the best of him and decides to slug it out with the Brazilian, he might be waking up with a considerable loss of viable brain cells.
Lets end on this, “The Magician” has a KO rate of 50%, “Hands of Stone” has one of 46%. Never have the words “don’t blink” been more appropriate.