They weren't exaggerating much when they nicknamed John Lineker "Hands of Stone."
Fighting in his first UFC main event, Linker put a stamp on the company's first event in South Dakota with a rollicking win over Michael McDonald at UFC Fight Night 91 in Sioux Falls on Wednesday night.
Lineker rocked McDonald early and often before finishing him at 2:40 of the opening round in their bantamweight bout.
"I'm very glad to fight here in the main event," said Lineker (28-7), who won his fifth straight fight. "I wanted to put on a show for the fans and I think I did."
Lineker, who often had trouble making weight as a flyweight, has fought his last three bouts at bantamweight. He certainly hasn't lost any power going up to 135, to which McDonald can attest.
The Brazilian dropped McDonald with a body shot followed by a right hand, then started laying down the leather. McDonald somehow escaped, but Lineker landed a pair of brutal body shots and then a left hook, which led to the fight getting waved off.
Lineker called out champion Dominick Cruz after scoring his 12th career knockout.
"Dominick Cruz, I'm coming for you, baby," he said.
The evening's co-main event unexpectedly turned into a wildly exciting fight, as Tony Ferguson took on late substitute Lando Vannata.
Vannata (8-1), a JacksonWink fighter, took the bout on two weeks' notice when previous opponent Michael Chiesa dropped out with an injury. And he announced his presence early on the first round when he rocked Ferguson with a spinning back fast. Later in the round, he dropped Ferguson with a kick. Ferguson, for his part, kept his composure and wen for both a heel hook and an armbar at the end of one of the year's most exciting rounds.
The frenetic pace continued in the second. Vannata made the mistake of dropping his hands, and paid for it by eating a brutal Superman punch. Seconds later, he walked into a standing guillotine and tapped at the 2:22 mark.
One gets the feeling this will be far from the last we see of Vannata, but for now, it's Ferguson's moment, as the Southern California contender scored his eighth straight win and had his fourth submission win in his past five fight.
"I have a lot of respect for him," said Vannata (21-2). "Thanks to him for showing up and putting on such a show for the fans. It felt goot getting my face punched again. [Champion] Eddie Alvarez, if you want an easy fight, go get Conor [McGregor], but I'm waiting right here on your doorstep to sign on the dotted line."
Maine's Tim Boestch put in exactly the sort of performance he need to get back into the conversation in the middleweight division, with an impressive second-round finish of Florida's Josh Samman.
Boetsch (19-10) outwrestled Samman, won the scrambles, and generally bullied his way to a victory. A ground-and-pound assault finished the fight as the bout was waved off at the 3:49 mark of the second round.
The victory was Boetsch's 10th of his UFC career and snapped a three-fight losing streak.
"We worked on a specific position there, we knew if we got him against the fence we'd be able to finish it, and that's how it played out," Boetsch said. "I took a second, calmed down, picked my shots and took advantage. I'm not done yet, I'm just coming into my prime, I'm ready to make a run."
The heavyweight fight between Poland's Daniel Omielańczuk and Russia's Oleksiy Oliynyk (50-10-1) won't go down as the most exciting in the history of the 265-pound weight class. But Omielańczuk (19-5-1, 1 NC) dished out the heaviest strikes over the course of the bout, as evidenced by the cuts and bruises all over Oliynyk's face after the fight, and that was enough to give Omielańczuk the nod.
He took a majority decision, with a 28-28 and a pair of 29-28s, for his third straight win. Oliynyk had an 11-fight win streak snapped and dropped to 2-1 in the UFC.
Omielańczuk gave a shout-out to a certain countrywoman after the fight.
"MMA is quite popular already in Poland and it is growing fast. Poland has a lot of good fighters. Joanna Jedrzejczyk is from Poland and she's a UFC champion. There are plenty of guys on their way up who will surely be in the UFC soon. I work for the UFC, when they call it is my job to fight and I will be ready when I get that call next."
Nakamura (32-7-2, 1 NC) and Noke (22-9-1) both dished out their fair share of shots in the opening round. Toward the end of the second, Nakamura rocked Noke with a huge knee, swarmed him on the ground, took his back, and cinched in a rear-naked choke. Noke tapped with one second left in the round.
Nakamura, the former welterweight champ of Japan's Deep promotion, is now 3-1 in the UFC.
"I'm so happy, I can't say," Nakamua said through an interpreter after his18th career submission win.
Nguyen (16-6), who took a nine-fight win streak into the bout, wasn't able to get the quick finish, and that led to one of the most fantastic displays of ground fighting you'll see any time soon. A fast-paced, high-level exchange of scrambles, reversals, and submission attempts broke out.
Smolka got the better of it by the end of the round, then really turned things on in the second. He bludgeoned Nguyen from top position for an uncomfortably long time. Referee Herb Dean finally waved off the carnage at 4:41 of the round, just as Nguyen's corner was throwing in the towel.
"I was really scared, trying to let opportunity present itself," said Smolka (11-1), who had his ninth career stoppage win. He caught me with head kick, I tried to tay calm, trying to keep it together, I could hear my coaches and just worked it out."