UFC 169: John Lineker vs. Ali Bagautinov preview and the prognostication

Photo by Esther Lin of MMA Fighting

Flyweight John Lineker faces his stiffest test at UFC 169 against the Sambo specialist, Ali Bagautinov who must also contend with a higher quality of opposition. The question is: will Lineker make weight and defy the odds just like he did against Dana White's three strike rule?

John Lineker (23-6) vs. Ali Bagautinov (12-2) Flyweight

Soapboax monologues: In citizen life, just as in sports, what is law is not always what is ethical, and what is ethical is not always protected by law. Many argue it is unethical for a fighter to be punished with a No Contest for smoking weed days before a fight. Or that fighters should be able to lawfully knee another man in the head (grounded or otherwise) to separate him from his consciousness.

Even steroids has its proponents. But when it comes to ethics, everyone is more or less in agreement that making weight is part of your job in professional sports. John Lineker has missed weight three times in the UFC. Against Louis Gaudinot (where he came in at 127 lbs), Jose Maria (129 lbs), and Phil Harris (128); the latter two were his last two bouts.

What should the punishment be? Are we in agreement with Matt Bishop, whose head nearly exploded on the BE radio show, that in order to provide incentive to fighters to not break the rules, they should be punished harsher than how they already are? Should Lineker be cut?

"To be honest, we're probably going to cut him after this event," UFC president Dana White told Fuel TV. "Three strikes and you're out."

That was Dana White in response to Anthony Johnson missing weight after UFC 142 against Vitor Belfort. I'm no expert on Aristotelian syllogisms, categorical propositions, and epistememalogical crap, but Dana is kind of inconsistent here. Yea Anthony Johnson lost, but he was 5-1 in the UFC before the Belfort bout. Just saying.

When we last left our heroes...Anyway, so Lineker's only loss in the UFC thus far is to Louis Gaudinot in New Jersey, no less. He's 4-1 in the UFC overall, and has won his last three fights by TKO.

Across Lineker is the Fight Nights Champion from Russia, who also has a laundry list of accomplishments outside of MMA including medals in the Pankration Federation, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Russian National Champion, FILA, Combat Sambo, Russian Greco-Roman Wrestling, Hand-to-Hand combat...basically all the worst parts of the Bible.

At 2-0 in the UFC with a win over Tim Elliot at UFC 167, he'll be looking to continue the Dagestani domination said Russian fighters have been assembling lately.

What both men can do: Lineker loves to throw his right hand like one of those small red grocery baskets. His speed allows him to ignore accuracy in favor of quantity which sounds like a knock, but isn't; he knows exactly what his best route to victory is and adjusts accordingly. He's not your average gunslinger though. Knowing fighters suspect he's one dimensional, he constantly switches from the head to the body.

In addition, his left hook is equally dangerous, but he throws from a strong base, which makes him hard to take down.

Ali likes to keep it standing himself. The fight wasn't exactly Shogun vs. Henderson, but I thought Tim Elliot was a very tough opponent for Ali, and Bagautinov did a good job of keeping from being confounded by Elliot's bizarre crab walk style.

He has one of the quickest right hand releases you'll see, and a left hook that may be even faster. But his strength on the feet is his quiet versatility. While he has a small number of moves, it's knowing when to execute that sets him apart. His kicks are chambered well amidst flurries, and his ground game is fluid in the guard passing department; he wastes little movement, sliding from guard to side to mount when at his best.

What both men can't do: Ali is still a bit of a frontrunner. I worry that Lineker's size could deplete him as he heads toward the finish line. There's also the fact that he's very very predictable. When he gets bored, Ali will throw right hand after right hand after right hand.

Defense. That's Lineker's "key to victory". Yes, Ali needs to worry about Lineker's power. But Lineker should not underestimate Ali's power either. The guy throws a vicious right hand that I think will land right away (Lineker's confidence in his ability to take a punch and land his own will create this scenario), so I feel like this is where the fight will be won...seeing how Lineker deals with getting hit hard.

This is a very tough fight to predict. It can essentially go either way, but I'll lean towards the speed and superior grappling combination.

X-Factor: A hasty referee. Both guys throw punches that I think ref's perceive as fight ending when it's important for them to distinguish being being "caught" and being on your way out. Both guys will throw with ill intent, so I could see someone getting caught early and not being given the benefit of the doubt ala Masvidal vs. Damm.

In-Fight Soundtrack: "Ham on!"

Prediction: Ali Bagautinov by Decision.

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