Despite missing weight for two of his last three bouts—and needing an extra hour to make weight in the third—UFC flyweight John Lineker has no plans to move back up to bantamweight.
That's according to his manager Alex Davis, who spoke to MMAFighting.com's Guilherme Cruz on Tuesday.
Lineker initially came in at 127 pounds for last week's UFC 169 bout against Ali Bagautinov. He hit 126 pounds after being granted an extra hour, but the damage was already done. Lineker's reputation as a fighter who can't make weight was cemented even further.
But despite the repeated weight failures, Davis said it makes no sense for Lineker to jump up a weight class.
He’s not a bantamweight, he’s a flyweight. We’ll fix the issues and he will make weight.
Imagine Lineker fighting a guy the size of Renan Barao. It makes no sense. The 135-pound guys are way bigger than him. He’s a flyweight, and we have to fix the weight issues.
Here's the thing: Lineker is not a flyweight. In order to be considered a flyweight, you have to make weight with regularity. Lineker hasn't been able to do that. Whether it is due to poor planning or the fact that he's simply carrying too much mass for the flyweight division, Lineker struggles mightily when stepping on the scale.
When he began preparations for the Bagautinov bout, Lineker was working with renowned nutritionist Mike Dolce. But when communication between Lineker and the Las Vegas-based Dolce became difficult, Lineker opted instead to work with Dr. Marcio Aranha, a doctor in Curitiba, Brazil.
Here's what Davis told MMAFighting.com on January 13:
Lineker is lighter than ever going into a fight. He’s doing great. Dr. Aranha identified the problem and fixed it. He’s amazing now.
Clearly, Dr. Aranha has not fixed the problem, and Lineker is not amazing.
When Lineker signed with the UFC, he was 19-5 as a bantamweight. Despite that record, he opted to cut to flyweight upon entry to the UFC. He missed weight for his first bout, a loss to Louis Gaudinot, and missed out on a Fight of the Night check as a result.
Lineker would make weight for his next two flyweight bouts, but then the trouble began anew. He came in at 129 pounds for his UFC 163 bout against Jose Maria then stepped on the scale at 128 pounds against Phil Harris in his next bout. He'd won four consecutive fights at flyweight and was nearing title contention but continually harmed his efforts to secure a title shot with his inability to make weight.
Lineker lost to Bagautinov, so the title shot is out the window for now. And until he can prove to UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby that he can make weight with regularity, it's not likely he'll be in contention any time soon.
He may want to compete at flyweight, but moving up to bantamweight makes the most sense, both for Lineker's career and for his health. There's no way he's going in the cage at his absolute best when he is forced to expend so much energy just making weight.
And there is precedence for a fighter moving up a weight class and receiving second chances in the UFC. The news that Anthony Johnson—a former welterweight who was cut from the promotion due to his own inability to make weight—signed a new four-fight contract with the UFC according to Cruz and was immediately thrust into a contender's fight with Phil Davis should prove that moving up isn't the end of a career.
It can be a new beginning. Johnson was a welterweight. Today, he's a light heavyweight and is even further up the ladder than he was in the days when he tried to compete in a weight class much too small for him.
Lineker is a talented fighter. He brings a ton of power to the cage, and he has the ability to be a fan favorite with his knockout-seeking style.
But unless he moves up and makes things easier on himself—or hires a real expert with plenty of practical experience in helping fighters make weight—he's going to find himself on the outside looking in.