There’s no denying the heart, will and tenacity of either fighter in UFC Fight Night: Portland’s main event, but neither man showed the improvement necessary to give me the impression that they’d have a chance to de-throne the bantamweight kingpin, Dominick Cruz.
John Lineker’s gameplan for every fight is simple, and unchanging. He desires to stalk down his prey, and when he gets in range, throw wild hooks at the head and body until his man hits the canvas. If he has to take shots to give them, he will. He believes in his chin, but more accurately, he knows that his chin is usually safe because most of the time the opponent will not dare to stand and trade bombs with the heavy handed Brazilian.
Lineker saw no reason to change the gameplan for fighting the smaller, and notoriously quick John Dodson. He stalked down his man, cutting off the space, and when he had Dodson backed up against the cage, he’d unload. He had particular success going to the body, realising that Dodson’s head movement was on point. Dodson, meanwhile, also did not attempt to show off much new in this bout. He believes in speed over power, and was on his bike all fight, electing to throw shots on the move, and tried to avoid Lineker’s power. His biggest success in the fight were several high kicks that rattled Lineker’s skull. Most men would be quickly incapacitated with one of these kicks – Lineker’s reaction, on the other hand, was mostly just to smile and press forward.
It was a difficult fight to score, with both men having some success, but the match-up proved to be a little disinteresting in that the action of each round mimicked that of the previous. I like a little diversity in my fights, but neither man was too interested in grappling. Fightmetric.com has the striking stats incredibly close for every round, and this one could have gone either way. In the end, of the 5 rounds scored by the 3 judges, Lineker was given 8 rounds total, and Dodson 7. You can’t get a closer split decision, and in my opinion a draw would have been a fair result, though always an unlikely one in this sport.
— UFC (@ufc) October 2, 2016
I suppose in the end the difference was simply that Lineker was the one moving forward, and when the striking stats are around about level, the guy doing the stalking is going to take it over the guy being stalked. After the fight, Lineker pointed to his current win streak, and demanded a shot at the 135lb champ, Dominick Cruz. Frankly, Lineker hasn’t a hope of winning that fight, but it’d be fun to watch him try. He gives every minute of every round his all. But you don’t simply walk down Dominick Cruz and throw wild hooks and get results. Cruz is probably the most intelligent fighter there is right now, and he’ll utilise his spectacular movement to dance around Lineker, and would engage only on his own terms. Lineker would take a beating, but the man has never been KO’d or even knocked down in a fight, and he certainly has the grit and the power to make it a good fight.
The other issue this fight brought up was that of weight classes, for both men. Dodson looks great at 125lbs, and he can make that weight just fine. He moved up to 135lbs because although he had great success at 125, he couldn’t take down the champ Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson who beat him twice. But in this fight he looked a little small physically, and he looked a little slower than usual too. 125lbs suits him better than 135, I think, but he has to find a reason to be there, and find a way to convince fans that he should fight for the belt for a third time.
Lineker meanwhile, missed weight down at 125lbs FOUR times out of 8 UFC fights, which is absolutely crazy. If he had any other fight style, the UFC would come down on him so much harder, but he’s super exciting so they kind of let him get away with it for far too long. Having finally been told to come up to Bantamweight, and in his 4th fight at this heavier division…and he’s missed weight again. It would be a little ridiculous if he ended up fighting at 145lbs given that he’s 5 foot 3 inches tall, so hopefully we won’t see this foolishness from Lineker again. According to commentator Jon Anik, Lineker was on weight two days prior to weigh in, so this was a case of ‘mismanagement’, as opposed to simply not being able to make the cut. I’m sure Lineker’s future is at 135 – I just hope he can avoid annoying the company and the fans by missing weight again.
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