A highly anticipated flyweight affair between John Lineker and Ali Bagautinov nearly became a catchweight, but Lineker, who has now missed weight on his first attempt an astonishing 4 times in his UFC career, tipped the scales at 126 lbs on Friday's 2nd attempt. Both men were looking to move one step closer to a title shot against Demetrious Johnson, although Lineker's inability to make weight badly hurt his cause before the fight even started.
Bagautinov had no interest in playing Lineker's game of frenetic back-and-forth striking, immediately taking him down in the 1st round. He didn't generate much offense as Lineker did well to defend, but the ground battle opened up a bit when Lineker attacked with a heel hook, only for Bagautinov to come back with his own leg lock. Lineker got back to his feet, only to be taken down off a caught kick. Round 2 was a clear Lineker round as he opened up with his powerful hands and starting digging his punches into Bagautinov's body. He also stuffed all of his takedowns and seemingly had the tide turned. The final round proved to be decisive, as Bagautinov took Lineker down a couple more times, landed hard elbows to the body, and generally shut down any sort of serious attacks from the Brazilian as he picked up another win. Ali Bagautinov def. John Lineker via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
What was the high point of the fight?
If you're into toying with your opponent, Lineker dropped for a desperation leg lock in the closing seconds of the final round. Bagautinov seemed uninterested and not bothered by this at all, and just started to wave to the crowd in victory as they cheered him on.
Where do these two go from here?
Bagautinov (13-2) just about earned himself a title shot against Demetrious Johnson. I'm not sure he actually did anything in particular to suggest it's a competitive fight, but he definitely proved he's a top 5 caliber talent.
Lineker (23-7) sees his four-fight winning streak go by the wayside, and he was very conservative in both of the rounds he lost. It could very well be attributed to his poor weight cut, but whatever the case he's out of the title picture for now, and I don't see any reason for him to continue at flyweight if he can't make weight.
Watch now, later, or never?
Later. It wasn't boring but it wasn't the high-paced violence I think most fans expected.