UFC 207 Fight Breakdown: TJ Dillashaw vs. John Lineker

TJ DillashawPrior 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 what is likely the No. 1 contender fight at bantamweight, as former champion TJ Dillashaw takes on John “Hands of Stone” Lineker at UFC 207 this Friday (December 30, 2016). TJ Dillashaw (Record: 13-3, -240 Favorite, Power Ranking: A+) The former collegiate wrestler turned MMA fighter had trained at Team Alpha Male before heading to Colorado to join striking coach Duane Ludwig at Elevation Fight Team. Dillashaw made significant strides in his striking while training under Ludwig, which elevated him to an elite level. Dillashaw is coming off a clear decision win over fellow Top 5 bantamweight Raphael Assuncao Under the tutelage of Duane Ludwig, there aren’t many fighters who have improved as much in the past few years as Dillashaw. Since his loss to Assuncao in 2013, Dillashaw has fought six times. In five of those six fights, Dillashaw landed over 100 significant strikes in each bout. He averages a whopping 5.44 significant strikes per minute while absorbing just 2.98 strikes per minute. That difference of 2.46 strikes per minute is one of the highest in the UFC and translates to a 37-strike difference over the course of a 15-minute fight. Dillashaw’s game has evolved into a great blend of aggressive, volume combination striking. Ludwig has done a terrific job at turning Dillashaw into a great MMA striker and into an elite fighter in this sport. Dillashaw matches that striking prowess with a collegiate-level wrestling game. This is an important fight for Dillashaw, as if he wins, he’ll be able to fight for the title again. John Lineker (Record: 29-7, +200 Underdog, Power Ranking: A-) The Brazilian Lineker had been a solid fighter at flyweight, but he had real issues making the 125-pound weight. He made the move full time to bantamweight in September 2015 and has been on a real tear in that weight class. He’s won four straight bouts, knocking out two opponents in the first round, including former title challenger Michael McDonald, developing into one of the most feared fighters in the weightclass. Lineker is perhaps the most exciting fighter in the bantamweight division. He’s about as aggressive as a fighter as one will see in the UFC. He presses forward throughout his fights and looks to get into brawls. Lineker is at his best when opponents engage with him, and he can head hunt with no remorse. Lineker’s nickname is “Hands of Stone” for good reason. He’s got 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 5.3 significant strikes a minute inside the cage; one of the highest rates in the division. He’s got good, but not great striking defense. He doesn’t need to put as much emphasis into defending strikes because he has 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 one. Lineker’s never been knocked out in his career, making him a nightmare matchup against most opponents. Matchup There’s no matchup I’m looking forward to more at UFC 207 than this top contender bout in the bantamweight division. Both of these fighters are a pleasure to watch in the Octagon for different reasons. Dillashaw is a well-oiled machine with a tremendous technical striking prowess. Sure, he has significant power for the weight class, but it’s his speed and movement which sets him apart from all but champion Dominick Cruz in this division. On the flip side, Lineker’s approach is much more direct than Dillashaw. His idea is not to bob and weave from his opponent’s reach, but instead to engage them directly and throw shot for shot. This is a fight that will be dictated by who controls the Octagon and keeps his opponent on the back foot. Both of these fighters excel when they’re on the front foot and can control the striking. Speed will be a big factor in this bout, and that’s where Dillashaw has a massive advantage. John Dodson was able to have some really effective moments against Lineker in his last bout due to both foot and hand speed advantages. What Dillashaw will do that Dodson was not was keep up a consistent pace. Dillashaw’s output is so consistently high that Lineker is going to get frustrated and try to force the action, which will open some easy opportunities for the American to land. Like any Lineker fight, if he lands a clean shot, he has a real chance to finish his opponent. However, I really think he’s going to struggle to consistently land in this bout. He’s going to have to do a lot of chasing, and that’s not a winning formula against a fighter who is able to land as much as Dillashaw does. Look for Dillashaw to be the more accurate striker throughout this bout and pick up a decision win.

Written by Jay Primetown

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