In the end, it wasn’t the scale that was John Lineker’s undoing, it was Ali Bagautinov.
The Dagestani used a wrestling heavy attack to grind down his Brazilian opponent and emerge with a unanimous decision in a flyweight title eliminator at UFC 169. All three judges scored it for Bagautinov 29-28.
The tone was set in the first round, when Bagautinov smartly used his wrestling to force Lineker to expend energy and sap him of his explosive power. The Brazilian had struggled to make weight on Friday, requiring extra time to hit the division’s 126-pound limit.
Lineker was able to rally in the second, stopping all six of Bagautinov’s takedown tries. With the fight in his realm, he was able to score with power punches. But Bagautinov reasserted himself in the third.
He dragged Lineker down twice more and landed 37 strikes to Lineker’s five in the final frame. That made it an easy call for the judges, and Bagautinov was confident in the fight’s final seconds that instead of trying to finish a downed Lineker, he stood over Lineker’s heel hook attempt, pumped his fist and flexed to the crowd.
Now the UFC will have to decide if his performance is worthy of a title shot against champ Demetrious Johnson.
The win boosted Bagautinov’s win streak to 11 straight. He’s now 12-2 while Lineker fell to 23-7.