For years, John Lineker struggled to make weight at 125 pounds. He was eventually forced to move up to 135 for good and the thought process among many was that he wouldn’t translate that well to the new division because of his natural size. 5-1 since then with his only loss coming to current bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw, Lineker has established himself as a topflight bantamweight. Brian Kelleher is 3-1 in the UFC with wins over former champion Renan Barao and perennial contender Iuri Alcantara. He gets another big opportunity here.
Round 1. Both men open with some leg kicks. Lineker’s appear to have more power behind them. Kelleher lands a big hook that staggers Lineker. Kelleher doesn’t follow up aggressively, which may have been a mistake given how hard the shot connected. In any event, Lineker recovers pretty quickly. Lineker drops Kelleher with a hook of his own. Lineker follows Kelleher to the ground, looking to finish the fight. Kelleher is able to hold and recover before standing back up. Kelleher lands a spinning back fist in a wild exchange. Kelleher shoots in for a takedown but it is blocked easily. Lineker pursues Kelleher with heavy punches late. Lineker lands another nice hook late. 10-9 Lineker.
Round 2. Lineker lands another big left hook. Kelleher is having real trouble defending against that. He lands another a minute later. Lineker charges in with punches and both men connect solidly in the exchange. Lineker’s increased aggression may suggest he’s confident about the matchup and looking for a finish. Lineker is really pouring it on. 10-8 Lineker.