clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Rob Font: ‘I gave up on myself’ in first John Lineker fight, am a ‘totally different person’

UFC bantamweight contender Rob Font says he is a lot more confident than the guy who lost to John Lineker in 2016.

Rob Font is set to face Cody Garbrandt at UFC Vegas 27 Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

When Rob Font found out his opponent was out of their UFC Greenville fight on June 22 due to an injury, he went to the UFC with one name he’d like to fight: John Lineker.

Font, originally scheduled to meet Cody Stamann, wasn’t sure if Lineker would take the fight on short notice because of the weight cut. But three hours later, Font said, it was a done deal.

“Obviously he was on my radar because I lost to him,” Font told Bloody Elbow. “He just lost to (Cory) Sandhagen, so I figured that was a potential fight. It just kind of made sense.”

Font fought Lineker at UFC 198 in May 2016 in Brazil. It was only Font’s third UFC fight, while Lineker’s 10th. It was also in enemy territory for Font. Lineker won a decision, handing Font his first loss in the promotion. Font is 4-2 since then and is now a nine-fight UFC veteran, less than a week away from his 10th — exactly where Lineker was when they first fought three years ago.

Font said he beat himself in the first fight. He doesn’t want to take anything away from the “savage” that is Lineker, but said most of why he lost that night was on the mental side.

“I gave up on myself toward the second round,” Font said. “I didn’t know how to deal with the crowd, I didn’t know how to deal with the emotions. I got totally distracted. I wasn’t focused at all. I remember looking at a green shirt in the crowd, like, ‘What am I doing? Why am I looking at this shirt? I gotta fight. I got John Lineker trying to throw bombs and I’m focusing on this green shirt.’ I just wasn’t there.”

Font said he made “a lot of leaps and bounds” after that particular fight, and there are a few things he believes will lead to a different outcome in the rematch. Font said he is a more confident fighter than three years ago. He also no longer trains for individual opponents, nor does he still watch tape; he leaves that to his coaches.

“I’ve learned, probably after that Lineker fight, I’m not training for any of these guys,” Font said. “I’m training for myself. I’m training for a guy trying to punch me and to not let him punch me; I’m training for a guy trying to take me down and to stop the takedown; or me taking someone down. I never train for specific styles. I’m training everything all the time.”

Font said he fights and trains with a different, more mature mindset than the guy who lost to Lineker. Ultimately, Font said, he is a “totally different person.”

“I’m a little more confident, more focused,” Font said. “I’ve been a little more patient and a little smarter. I’m more confident in my skills.”

Font said when he used to watch tape on his opponents, he would read too much into it. There are more ways him watching tape can go wrong than right, he said.

“I would get in there and try to see something I saw on the tape,” Font said. “That isn’t real. It’s all reactions; it’s all in the moment. You get an idea of what a fighter’s gonna do (by watching tape), but I can’t sit there and watch. I’ll start overthinking everything.”

Font admitted it will be tough to finish Lineker; the last time Lineker suffered a stoppage loss was in his UFC debut in 2012 — and it was a submission. Font still thinks there is a chance he could catch Lineker and knock him out, but he realizes it’s probably more likely that he outpoints Lineker and wins a decision.

If more confidence and a different training regime isn’t enough to win the rematch, Font said he’s just flat-out better than he was three years ago.

“My skillset is totally different — more wrestling, I’m throwing even kicks now.” Font said. “If you watch the way my jab was popping off in the Sergio Pettis fight, that is totally different, too. I feel like I can consistently touch him at will with my jab, and then hopefully everything else just follows through.”