December 30, 2016

UFC 207: Expect A Show-Stealing Fight Between John Lineker and T.J. Dillashaw

By Raphael Garcia

UFC 207 is due to be a major event that will captivate the sports world on Friday night. Ronda Rousey heads back into the Octagon for the first time in a year. Dominick Cruz is defending his title against the brash newcomer Cody Garbrandt. But before either of these fights go down, T.J. Dillashaw faces John Lineker in a vital bantamweight fight.

Dillashaw is a former champion who is clawing his way back to another opportunity at the belt he lost to Cruz at UFC Fight Night 81. The former Team Alpha Male standout has been very vocal in his disdain with the promotion since being overlooked for the title shot. But to earn that slot he has a very tough task in passing Lineker.

Lineker is a power puncher, a rarity in the bantamweight division. In 29 professional wins, he’s stopped 13 of them via knockout. Since joining the UFC in 2012, he’s stopped five men by some form of knockout, each one seeming more violent than the next. Mixed martial arts usually attracts fight fans looking to see someone get laid out in the cage, and Lineker fills that need more often than not.

The fight between these men will be an exciting clash in MMA strategy. On one hand, Lineker moves forward, flat-footed, looking to land a big shot to change the fight. This was on display against Michael McDonald at UFC Fight Night 91, where he walked McDonald down for the much of the first round before finishing the fight. On the other hand, Dillashaw’s movement is an art form that perplexes opponents while he lands his trademark combinations. Lineker has a very tough task ahead of him figuring out that movement long enough to land an impactful shot.

This fight is intriguing outside of the cage as well. The bantamweight division needs another name to rise to the top to challenge either Cruz or Garbrandt next year. Cruz’s tenure as champion has seen him defeat many of the best fighters at bantamweight, but Lineker is one of the men not on that list. Plus, Cruz’s first fight with Dillashaw was so close that people still debate that outcome. It doesn’t matter which fighter gets his hand raised after their fight on Friday; either one of them is a strong candidate to become the next contender for the 135-pound title.

Do not be surprised if the bout between Lineker and Dillashaw steals the show at UFC 207. The technical acumen of Dillashaw versus the sheer power of Lineker creates a captivating fight on multiple levels. With an important win and a potential title shot on the line, fans should expect the best from both T.J. Dillashaw and John Lineker.

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