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John Lineker hopes to headline UFC Sao Paulo against a top 5 bantamweight

John Lineker stopped Brian Kelleher in his last UFC fight, in May.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

CURITIBA, Brazil — John Lineker wants a five-round fight in September.

Fresh off a third-round knockout over Brian Kelleher at UFC 224 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in May, the bantamweight striker is planning to come back in action at UFC Sao Paulo, scheduled for Sept. 22 in Brazil, against a top 5 opponent.

“I want to fight as soon as possible,” Lineker told MMA Fighting. “I have no idea who I’m fighting next, the division is crowded now, but I want to fight soon.”

Winner of six of seven since moving up to 135 pounds in the UFC, Lineker sees bantamweight contenders Jimmie Rivera, Raphael Assuncao and Dominick Cruz as ideal opponents for his return.

“I want a top 5, I want the belt. I’m going after that,” Lineker said. “My only loss [in the division] was to the champion T.J. Dillashaw, and that doesn’t erase what I’ve done inside the UFC, my place in the ranking, so I want to fight someone at the top. I want a top 5 to make sure I get real quick to the belt.”

As someone who’s hoping to earn a shot at the gold in 2019, “Hands of Stone” welcomes a five-round main event in Sao Paulo to make sure he stays ready for a championship fight.

“It’s always good to fight a main event to be prepared for a title fight,” said Lineker, who defeated John Dodson via decision in his first and only 25-minute bout in the UFC. “I fight well in five-round fights, I’ve shown that, so it would be good to have another five-round fight to prepare for a title shot.

The UFC has yet to announce which fighters will headline the Fight Night event in Sao Paulo.

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