Lineker Attempts Bantamweight Breakthrough Against Contender Dodson
The UFC's Flyweight division may be the only one which has held some stability over the past couple years. Just ask UFC betting fans.
The champion is Demetrius Johnson. He has beaten the contenders, one by one, as they've passed by him. He has two wins over John Dodson, a fighter long recognized as second or third best at 125-lbs. One of the few contenders he didn't get to meet nor beat was John Lineker, who lost to Ali Bagautinov and then had trouble cutting weight when he came within touching distance of a title bout.
Dodson and Lineker retreated to bantamweight recently for considerably different reasons, but with the same underlying motive; Johnson, and perhaps a personal obstacle or two, kept each from having a chance at becoming champion at flyweight. The bantamweight throne is occupied by the faded and injury-prone -- if more than sufficiently well-schooled -- Dominick Cruz. That is a target worth trying to hit.
Dodson, 31, is a fine product of Jackson's MMA with fast hands, fast feet, and sharp thinking. His only losses since 2009 came against "Mighty Mouse" Johnson. His wins? TJ Dillashaw, Tim Elliott, Jussier Formiga, John Moraga (2), and Zach Makovsky. Good company to keep much less beat convincingly. His reason for moving up in weight was as simple as getting his career moving, with Johnson an unmovable wall. He beat Manny Gamburyan with a thirty-seven second TKO to announce his arrival at 135-lbs.
Lineker, 26, is an explosive contender who is enjoying a stellar run since putting on the extra poundage. UFC betting fans have certainly enjoyed the electrifying shows he has been putting on lately.
For the Brazilian, moving up in weight was less a want than a necessity. He missed weight -- albeit coming away with a victory -- against top ten flyweight Ian McCall at UFC 183. This was one of his best career performances but he was left without much of a choice but to migrate from the division in which he was contending after missing the limit for the third time since entering the UFC.
He has since submitted the gritty Francisco Rivera, outfought top up-and-comer Rob Font, and put top five bantamweight Michael MacDonald away in the first round, quickly enough becoming the #5-ranked bantamweight in the world.
This is not the harsh landscape that is 125, but either one of these fighters could be title bound with a win. There is no understating this bout's significance. I think Dodson wins it by decision after fending off an early swarm by Lineker.
In the co-main event, former Bellator lightweight champion Will Brooks makes his second octagon appearance against Alex "Cowboy" Oliviera.
Brooks, a well-rounded fighter out of American Top Team, has gone five rounds on several occasions and won each with ease. Wins over Drew Dober, John Alessio, Michael Chandler (2), Dave Jansen, Marcin Held, and Saad Awad anchor his resume. His only loss came in Feb. 2013 -- against Awad in their first bout.
Brooks has since demonstrated his skills for UFC fans with his July 8 debut win over grizzled veteran Ross Pearson. Although he did show moments of weakness in the third round against an experienced pro, he won the fight comfortably behind a mix of striking, dirty boxing, and takedowns.
Oliviera, 28, is a feared Muay Thai striker who has won four of his last five bouts in the octagon. His only loss in that span came against the other "Cowboy," Donald Cerrone. He will compete for every second this bout stays on the feet, so this won't be one Brooks looks to grind out down the stretch. He'll want to use his takedowns, control the bout up against the cage, or else he'll really be left gasping for air after three rounds with this guy.
Andre Fili def. Hacran Dias via unanimous decision (Good featherweight scrap lands on the main card. Fili should be able to win it down the stretch with his striking but won't finish Dias, who has never been put away in 27 bouts.)
Louis Smolka def. Sergio Pettis via submission (Smolka, a long, dangerous grappler, plays the role of spoiler against Anthony Pettis' intriguing younger brother.)
Shamil Abdurakhimov def. Walt Harris via unanimous decision (Walt could always come away with an early knockout but something leads me to believe the Russian outlasts him and roughs out a decision win.)
Tamdan McCrory def. Nate Marquardt via knockout (Nate Marquardt's name is getting a tad old, him having lost six of his last eight bouts. He's crafty and could always surprise us one more time, but I think the increasingly fragile Marquardt gets stopped early.) Check the sportsbook for current odds.
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