After a seven-year run under the UFC banner, John Lineker is thrilled to be called a ONE Championship athlete.
“Hands of Stone,” who inked a deal with the Asian promotion days after being let go by the UFC, sees the glass half full now that he’s making more money every time he steps into a cage.
“I’m really happy to sign with ONE,” Lineker told MMA Fighting. “I believe I’ll be very welcome there. They love strikers over there in Asia, so it’s gonna be a great new home for me. I’m happy and excited.”
Fighting at ONE opens doors for some changes. Even though he’s focused on his MMA career, not interested in taking Muay Thai or kickboxing bouts, a different ruleset with legal grounded knee strikes is something that pleases the Brazilian.
“I’m a brawler, you know? I love this stuff,” Lineker said with a laugh. “The more exciting, the better. It’s going to be really exciting to fight there.”
With weight-cutting by dehydration not allowed under ONE rules, Lineker will compete at 145 pounds. The American Top Team athlete says he usually started fight week at around that weight before he started dehydrating to make 135 pounds in the UFC, so “it’s gonna be way better for me with no dehydration.”
Lineker won’t get into specifics of what led to his release from the UFC, focusing on his future with ONE. Yet, that departure could mean he finally gets a chance to face Demetrious Johnson.
“Mighty Mouse” was the UFC flyweight king back when Lineker competed at that weight class in the Octagon, but the Brazilian’s multiple weight misses prevented that bout from happening.
With a smile on his face, Lineker said he’s “definitely” interested in taking on Johnson, who competes in a lower weight class (135 pounds) at ONE.
“If they want to make this superfight, I’m here,” Lineker said. “I’m here to fight him. It’s going to be the opportunity that I didn’t have before. Finally.”
In his current weight class, though, Lineker would have to get past a fellow Brazilian to claim the bantamweight championship one day.
“He’s an excellent athlete, a great fighter, but I’m coming,” Lineker said of Bibiano Fernandes. “I want to do my best in there and put on a show for the fans. Bibiano is a great athlete, has a good ground game and heavy hands, but I’m going there to give them a show.”