ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – Even though Tuesday's announcement that Chris Cariaso would fight current flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson for the title was met with a lukewarm reception, don't expect the UFC to change its mind.
After John Lineker put on a Fight of the Night performance against Alptekin Ozkilic at UFC Fight Night 45 at the Revel Casino Hotel on Wednesday night -- finishing him with nine seconds remaining in the bout via TKO -- UFC Director of Public Relations Dave Sholler said that Cariaso was still the guy to face Johnson.
"No, tickets went on sale today for that fight, so Cariaso has the fight," he said in the post-fight press conference. "But I'll tell you what -- John Lineker looked incredible tonight. John's biggest battle hasn't so much been the guys in the Octagon, it's been the scale. He went out there and made weight easy, he said it all week that he would make weight easy, and he did that. So, he's right there.
"You talk about the Dublin card this weekend, with [Brad] Pickett and [Ian] McCall and now [Lineker]'s in the mix...that division got really interesting tonight."
Though the Brazilian Lineker has gone 5-2 in the UFC, he has missed weight three times, which has hindered his ascension as a contender. Another missed weight might have cost him his spot on the UFC roster. But he came in on Tuesday at 125.5. With the outcry of Lineker's merit as a challenger to Johnson's title getting louder, Lineker's performance stood out a little more. But there's also viable contender fighting in McCall-Pickett at UFC Fight Night 46 in Dublin, Ireland, on Saturday.
Johnson was originally supposed to defend his belt against against John Dodson, who was coming off of back-to-back knockouts to earn the spot. However, it was learned last week that Dodson would be out the rest of 2015 to undergo ACL surgery on his knee. Now Cariaso, who has won three fights in a row but is ranked just No. 8 on the media-produced UFC rankings, gets the nod.
He will challenge Johnson on Aug. 30 at UFC 177 in Sacramento, California.