John Lineker's official bantamweight return was a rousing success as he submitted Francisco Rivera in a thrilling bit of chaos at UFC 191. That immediately puts him among the ranks of potential title contenders, which the division badly needs. With his next opponent yet to be decided, one top 10 fighter has expressed considerable interest in facing him. #7 ranked Bryan Caraway was interviewed by MMA Junkie earlier this week about his future prospects, and he said he's down to fight Brazil's "Hands of Stone" next year:
"I really want the Lineker fight," Caraway said. "He's a tough guy. I'm buddies with Francisco Rivera; that was an awesome fight (between Lineker and Rivera at UFC 191). He beat Francisco, so I kind of want to get in there and mix it up with him."
Caraway (20-7) is coming off a unanimous decision win over former bantamweight title challenger Eddie Wineland at UFC on FOX in July. It was a bounce back performance for him after losing a unanimous decision to Raphael Assuncao in October 2014.
According to UFC Tonight's Ariel Helwani, Lineker has expressed mutual interest in the bout, with his manager saying "they'd love that fight." Lineker also added this statement to MMA Junkie shortly thereafter:
"I need another name in the division that I can knock out. People keep calling me small for the division, but as I continue to rack up these names, they'll be calling me a giant at bantamweight."
All sounds like the makings of a fight to me. It's up to the UFC to formally offer them the bout and for them to sign the contracts and we can get to talking about this showdown as official.