When we last left our heroes...John Lineker became an instant fan favorite when he took on Louis Gaudinot in a FOTN slugfest that he ended up losing. Despite Gaudinot taking the win, it's Lineker who fans remember best.
He's rattled off three wins since then, beating Yasuhiro Urushitani, Azamat Gashimov, and Jose Maria. It'll be interesting to see if he can keep this winning streak alive. If he does, he'll get a very high profile fight with sweet nothings about ‘title contention' whispered into his ear. Assuming his ears can make weight of course.
For Harris, this is his chance to make a name for himself as someone other than a British ‘can'. Harris has put in real work on the UK circuit. With 13 of his 22 wins by way of submission, and 4 by knockout, he's more than earned his way into the UFC and proved it when he managed a win over Ulysses Gomez at UFC on Fuel TV: Barao vs. McDonald.
He's been out since then. In fact, this fight was supposed to happen at UFC 163, but Harris suffered a broken orbital bone in training (!!). I guess Dana hands out Sparring Partner of the Night bonuses or something. In any event, this fight will go one of two ways.
What both men can do: Lineker will do what he always does. He'll wing that big right hand until it lands and hope his opponent, as has happened in the past, won't recover when it does. 10 of his 22 wins are by knockout.
Punching power is not all that unique in MMA as a whole, but for Lineker, this is a real rabbit's foot in a division like Flyweight.
Punching power is simply not as common at the lighter weights. If Lineker is able to fight his way into contention it'll be because of his natural power, so he's wise to rely on it no matter how predictable he might be. However, none of this is to say he's completely one dimensional. He has vicious ground and pound, a nasty left hook, and has a strong base to ensure that grapplers don't sweep him off his feet.
Harris is a pretty traditional grappler specialist; while nothing really separates Harris from other specialists on the ground, he's got solid chops. Most importantly, he doesn't panic. In his flyweight debut, Remi Morvan was all but outworking and outgrappling him from top control, but Harris weathered the grappling storm for a triangle finish.
His movement on the ground is very tricky, which is why he often looks to be in more trouble than he actually is. While he doesn't do anything special on the feet, he does have a sneaky left hook that he loves to pitch in close when going for takedowns.
What both men can't do: That's pretty much it for Harris. Even though he's won a lot by submission, his open style leaves him vulnerable. More than that though will be the dilemma he faces when Lineker is coming at him like Charles Bronson.
Harris isn't all that great on the feet, though he hides his deficiencies well by staying in close when he needs to. Lineker does a good job of keeping his distance so he'll be able to land punches. In addition, Harris has a tendency of finding his way on his back, other because of a failed scramble, or because his opponent put him there. Lineker has savage ground and pound.
X-Factor: One of the things I have yet to mention, and one of the things that has made Lineker a pariah of sorts, is his impressive ability to miss weight. He's missed weight twice already in the UFC. If he misses weight a third time, I don't know what kind of punishment is in store for him, but at the very least he'll be getting curse words, and mean stares thrown his way by Dana White.
While it won't impact the fight much, it is incredibly lame nonetheless, and I wish there was some sort of specific harsh sentence for fighters who routinely miss weight. Yea it may not be fair, but a harsher fine/punishment should be incentive for fighters to [Matt Bishop aneurysm mode]not break the rules!!![/Matt Bishop aneurysm mode]
Prediction: John Lineker by TKO, round 2.