John Lineker spent more than seven years in the UFC establishing himself as one of the best flyweights in the world. The Brazilian is now competing for ONE Championship and will make his sophomore appearance on Friday.
Lineker is now competing as a bantamweight. He has been matched with former champion Kevin Belingon at ONE: ‘Inside the Matrix’ Part II which is being broadcast on delay from the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Belingon is the only fighter on the roster to have beaten bantamweight champion Bibiano Fernandes. But Lineker does not sound too concerned about his opponent’s credentials,
“I am coming into ONE Championship prepared for anyone (and) I am ready to go against him. I don’t think he can stop me.”
Lineker is pleased with his current trajectory. His first outing was a year ago at ONE: ‘Dawn of Valor’ where he beat Muin Gafurov by decision.
The Brazilian would have liked to finish the fight sooner but suffered a serious injury in the second round,
“In that fight, I broke my hand in the second round but still managed to do a good job. Although I couldn’t get the knockout, I still think I made a good impression,” said Lineker.
A win over Belingon would be a serious statement and it is one the Brazilian is determined to make,
“I am feeling great and ready for my next bout. My preparation for Belingon has been one of the best of my career, and I believe I am going to be able to show what I came here for, and that is to be the champion in ONE Championship.”
Lineker’s UFC tenure garnered twelve victories with seven of them coming via a stoppage. Some of his most high-profile scalps include Ian McCall, John Dodson and Marlon Vera.
In Belingon, he faces another stern test. Lineker has plenty of respect for his upcoming opponent,
“He is definitely one of the toughest opponents I have faced,” he said.
Belingon has been on the ONE Championship roster since 2012 and Lineker has found plenty of fight footage to browse through,
“I studied lots of his videos. He seems to be a very versatile opponent. He likes to keep punching, he moves very well, but I think he is going to look for the exchanges. This is his style, just like mine. I’m going to look for a knockout in this fight and I know I can get the best out of the exchanges.”
Belingon is currently the #1 ranked bantamweight. Lineker sits four places below him but knows he has the opportunity to establish himself as the leading contender for Fernandes’ crown with a win on Friday,
“I want the champion and if I beat (Belingon) that should be the way to go.”
Lineker never secured a flyweight title shot with the UFC, his six fight winning streak was marred by multiple issues making weight. But he is determined to challenge for the ONE Championship bantamweight belt,
“I know Bibiano is a tough opponent, he has high-level jiu-jitsu, but no one can stop me at the moment. I know I have the edge. I am working really hard and I will get it (the title).”