UFC Fight Night 96 Breakdown: John Dodson vs John Lineker

John Dodson kickPrior to each UFC fight card, Jay Primetown takes a look at some of the key contests at each event. In the latest installment, we look at the main event of UFC Fight Night 96 as top ten bantamweights clash as John Dodson takes on John Lineker.   John Dodson (Record: 18-7, -130 Favorite, Fighter Grade: A-) The long time flyweight title contender and two-time title challenger has recently made the move up to bantamweight. In his debut in the division, Dodson made quick work of Manny Gamburyan, knocking him out in just 37 seconds. This is Dodson’s second fight at bantamweight and one that would put him into title contention with a victory. Jackson’s MMA product John Dodson has been one of the most consistent fighters in the lower weight classes. Outside of a pair of losses to Demetrious Johnson, Dodson has been unbeaten since joining the UFC in 2011 through The Ultimate Fighter reality show. What stands out about Dodson is his athleticism. He really maneuvers inside the cage and has the ability to jump into strikes like no one else in the weight class. Defensively, his speed allows him to avoid most of his opponent’s strikes while giving him the opportunity to keep his hands low to focus on offensive attack. Dodson’s hand speed really allows him to uncork with the power strikes. Dodson has finished five opponents in the UFC with strikes including former bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw. His power is very much a threat in this weight class. In the grappling exchanges, Dodson is very difficult to take down. He’s successfully defended 84% of takedowns attempted on him. Demetrious Johnson is the only fighter in the UFC to take him down to the canvas. Where Dodson can be exposed is by a volume striker. Dodson hasn’t landed more than 60 strikes in a fight in over four years and he’s been known to have lengthy periods of inactivity in between the spectacular.   John Lineker (Record: 28-7, +110 Underdog, Fighter Grade: A-) Brazilian John Lineker had been a solid fighter at flyweight, but had real issues making the 125 pound weight class. He made the move full-time to bantamweight in September 2015 and has been on a real tear in that division. He’s won three straight bouts, knocking out two opponents in the first round including former title challenger Michael McDonald,  developing into one of the most feared fighters at 135 pounds. John Lineker may in fact be the most exciting fighter in the bantamweight division. He’s about as aggressive a fighter as one will see in the UFC. He presses forward throughout his fights and looks to get in brawls. Lineker is at his best when opponents engage with him and Lineker can head hunt with no remorse. Lineker’s nickname is “Hands of Stone” and that’s for good reason. He has excellent punching power and can put opponents away. He does well to mix in strikes to both the head as well as to the body. His work rate on the feet is excellent, landing nearly six significant strikes a minute inside the cage; one of the highest rates in the division. He combines that striking prowess with one of the best chins in MMA. He has full confidence in his chin and is willing to take a punch to land one of his own. Lineker’s never been knocked out in his career making him a nightmare matchup against most opponents.   Match-up This is one of the best matchups the UFC has booked in the last few months. Two exciting former flyweights battling at bantamweight to jump into title competition. What stands out in this matchup is the power both men possess. Rarely is there this kind of power in the bantamweight division and even rarer do both competitors in the same fight possess it. Look for Lineker to come out from the start and pressure Dodson early. Neither fighter has ever been knocked out, so even in a matchup like this, I don’t see there being an early finish. The more likely result is that this ends up being a standing exchange where Dodson continues to move and Lineker is stalking throughout the fight. Lineker will throw more strikes and will likely land more in this bout. In a fight that should stay standing, I favor the fighter who will be more active in John Lineker. This fight is particularly difficult to breakdown because it can go five rounds. Dodson has gone five rounds twice in his career while Lineker has never been to championship rounds before, so things could get interesting late. Given the stylistic matchup and the five round nature of this bout, this is a fight where we will learn more a lot about each fighter that can be applied to betting perspective on these two bantamweights in their next three to four fights. Sit back, enjoy this fight, and use the knowledge gained from this bout to beat the books another day.

Written by Jay Primetown

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