John Lineker returns to the bantamweight division after an eight-fight run as a flyweight in the UFC, but that doesn’t mean his life will be any easier.
The heavy-hitting Brazilian, who missed weight a few times while building a 6-2 record inside the Octagon, will still have a long way to go before making weight at 135 pounds.
"I will have to cut 30 pounds to fight at 135. I used to cut 40 to fight at flyweight," Lineker told MMAFighting.com. "Bantamweight is my original weight class. I only cut down to 125 for the opportunity to fight in the UFC. The division was new in the UFC and they were looking for fighters. I had a good record, so they signed me."
Lineker says he wanted to move back up to bantamweight a long time ago, but his manager Alex Davis insisted. Stay at flyweight and you will become champion, Davis said at the time. Lineker won fights and would have become the next in line for a shot at UFC champion Demetrious Johnson if not for his issues at the scale.
"I was upset because I lost a title shot, but it was really hard for me to make weight at 125 pounds," he said. "I didn’t have much time between fights and my body couldn’t handle it, so I missed weight one more time. It will be easier at 135 pounds.
"I thought about moving up to 135 a while ago, but my manager believed I could win the flyweight title, so we insisted. I believe I would be able to make 125, but only if I had five or six months between fights. I was cutting too much weight, and now they are forcing me to fight at 135. The boss told me to go to bantamweight, but I already wanted to move up."
Johnson stated during UFC on FOX 10’s Q&A session that Lineker should have been cut for missing weight multiple times, but the Brazilian believes his words are a sign of fear.
"That didn’t bother me because he’s not the boss," Lineker said. "I’m sure he was afraid to fight me. He later said that I would be a tough opponent for him. I believe he was afraid to fight me."
Lineker has no date to make his debut as a bantamweight in the UFC yet, but eyes late June or early July as possible dates.
"I hurt my foot in my last fight, so I’m slowly returning to training now," he said. "The UFC called my manager and they are talking. I don’t have any opponent in mind right now. Like I did at 125 pounds, I will fight and wait for opportunities. I will beat one by one until I get where I want. I will think about me and do my job."
The UFC has more active fighters in the bantamweight division than at 125 pounds, but "Hands of Stone" doesn’t believe that more competition makes a title run more complicated.
"It depends on my performances," Lineker said. "I don’t believe it’s going to be tougher at bantamweight because I have David inside of me. David beat giants, and I will beat everyone they put in front of me to get where I want."