John Lineker is back in the win column following a unanimous decision win over Marlon Vera in the kick-off bout on the main card at UFC Fight Night from Sao Paolo, Brazil on Saturday night.
Lineker had been out since last December when he suffered a broken jaw in a fight with former champion T.J. Dillashaw and after several opponents reportedly turned down the matchup with him in Brazil, he had something to prove.
As the fight got underway, Lineker took a little time settling into a rhythm as he allowed Vera to stay on the outside, peppering away with long punches and kicks.
Midway through the opening round, Lineker finally woke up as he came gunning for Vera, blasting away with huge looping punches while digging to the body before going up top targeting the head.
Lineker’s aggression late in the round backed Vera off with his offense diminishing from a higher output through the first few minutes where he was in control.
Lineker’s attacks continued into the second round as he started pressing forward with more confidence, consistently throwing dynamite with his hands.
It was clear that Vera was doing his best to protect the chin to stay away from Lineker’s power and he did manage to uncork a beautiful hook kick that partially landed but the Brazilian ate the shot and just smiled back at him.
With less than a minute to go in the round, a slip put Lineker on top of Vera on the mat and he continued to throw sledgehammers until the final horn sounded.
Big GnP from @JohnLineker to end round 2!
Lineker up 2-0? #UFCSP pic.twitter.com/cOVKJS4LIu
— UFC (@ufc) October 29, 2017
Between rounds, Vera’s corner implored him to let his hands go, knowing that he was likely down on the scorecards and the advice paid off, but it also opened him up to more of Lineker’s power shots.
Vera unleashed a few flying knees late in the round, but he wasn’t able to land with any real impact as time ticked away with Lineker fighting smart and not giving his opponent any big openings.
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When it was over, the judges scored the fight 30-27, 29-28, 29-28 all in favor of Lineker, who moves to 5-1 since returning to the bantamweight division in 2015.
Following the victory, Lineker apologized for less than his best performance following a long absence from the Octagon but now he’s looking for another top named opponent as he continues to press forward for title contention.
“I was away for 10 months, the beast is out now,” Lineker said in closing.