In combats sports, there are “must-win” fights, but on Friday night, John Lineker faced a rare “must-weight” scale encounter. Going into the UFC 169 weigh-ins, the (sometimes) flyweight had missed his number in three of his five UFC bouts. As extra enticement to meet the mark, UFC president Dana White publicly agreed with the notion that Lineker’s matchup with Ali Bagautinov could serve as a No. 1 contender fight.
Still, Lineker could not help but flirt with disaster. Wearing the nervous look of a guilty man, Lineker stepped on the Prudential Center scale after disrobing completely and heard “127” shouted back at him.
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That number was not enough. He dejectedly walked back through the curtain, but granted the New Jersey Athletic Control Board’s one-hour grace period, the heavy-handed Brazilian went back to work shedding weight, and about 45 minutes after weighing in the first time, made 126, hitting the flyweight limit.
In doing so, he might have saved himself from being cut with a loss. The UFC has in the past cut others including Anthony Johnson for being serial offenders.
More importantly, it means that a victory could still put him in line for a flyweight title shot against Demetrious Johnson. It remains to be seen whether the UFC would trust him to make 125 for a championship match, since title fights do not receive the one-pound allowance that non-title fights do.
Lineker (23-6) has knocked out three straight opponents but is currently the betting underdog against Bagautinov, a 12-2 Dagestani who is currently riding a 10-fight win streak.