September 30, 2016

UFC Fight Night 96: John Lineker vs. John Dodson Creates Intrigue In the 135-Pound Division

By Raphael Garcia

Every year there are a few fights announced that immediately excite fans. These fights don’t have to include the title or even a position as the number one contender; the idea is to bring two exciting fighters together in competition. John Lineker vs. John Dodson is just that. This Saturday’s bantamweight main event deserves its moment in the limelight as one of the best matchups of 2016.

Dodson and Lineker are two fighters that buck popular misconceptions. Many mainstream fans develop the presumption that lighter weight fighters do not have the same propensity for highlight reel knockouts as bigger men. That isn’t the case for either of these two fighters, however. These former flyweight contenders have combined for 22 total knockouts. But when they were unable to claim gold in the division where Demetrious Johnson reigns, they were forced to jump up 10 pounds and chase the bantamweight crown. However, adding those ten pounds hasn’t hindered their ability to stop opponents and leave them crumpled on the mat.

The chief complaint surrounding the 135-pound division is that the weight class is devoid of interesting contenders to challenge Dominick Cruz. Both Lineker and Dodson help solve that problem, because a win for either man in this UFC Fight Night 96 main event puts him on the short list of eventual contenders. They both possess key wins that put them in the conversation for big matches in the future as well -- Lineker recently dispatched Michael McDonald and Dodson has a win over former champion TJ Dillashaw. The winner of this fight will make an immediate impact on the title picture.

Still, it is the action that’s expected to occur in the cage that caused many ears to perk up when this fight was announced. The UFC has successfully used the Fox Sports platform in the past to present fights meant not only to build the roster, but to also create new stars. Dodson and Lineker are the right types of fighters to put in this position, as their fighting styles are exactly what attracts mainstream fans: technical violence.

While some fans may expect these two guys to stand in the center of the cage and swing until their arms fail them, that is far from the case. Dodson and Lineker are technical in ways that often elude the casual viewer. For example, Dodson’s footwork and patience has helped him land big shots in perfectly timed moments to finish his opponents. Lineker, on the other hand, forces his opponents into range and lands nasty body blows to open up attacks to the head, a skill that is often overlooked in mixed martial arts.

The pairing of John Dodson and John Lineker creates a fight that fans should not miss. There is a lot on the line, not only for both men in the main event, but for the division as a whole. With so many MMA fights occurring on a weekly basis, it’s hard to call one “must see,” but Lineker vs. Dodson at UFC Fight Night 96 is as close to that as any other bout this year.


UFC Fight Night 96: Dodson vs. Lineker takes place on October 1, 2016 at Moda Center in Portland, Oregon.

Click the stars to rate how good you think UFC Fight Night 96 will be.

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