Lineker’s victory wasn’t without some turbulence, though.
While Lineker looked more calm and in control early in the opening round, just before the midway point, Maria rocked him with a spinning backfist. Lineker tried to answer, but was still wobbled, and ended up eating a few more shots from Maria. He tried to kick, but Maria drove him to the mat. That proved to be a saving grace for Lineker, however, as he kept scrambling and biding his time, finally making a recovery.
“I got a little lost when he did that,” said Lineker after the fight. “But I was able to recover and go into my game, which is obviously striking.”
That’s exactly what Lineker did, as he came out firing in round two.
He hurt Maria early with a knee to the midsection, but Maria only slowed for a moment.
After Lineker stuffed a takedown attempt, Maria fired off a kick, but then Lineker made him pay with a left hand that drove him to the mat. Lineker followed and unleashed a flurry of strikes to finish the fight.
The victory ratchets Lineker’s Octagon record to 3-1, all three of his wins being consecutive.
He’s considered one of the top fighters in the flyweight division, but he was three pounds above the limit for this fight, marking the second time he has missed weight for a UFC 125-pound bout. He’ll need to get that under control before being considered as a contender to Demetrious Johnson’s belt.
(Follow @KenPishna on Twitter)