- Lineker was stripped of the ONE bantamweight belt when he missed weight for his first fight with Andrade, which then ended as a no contest
- ‘Hands of Stone’ says he will be looking for a KO in their Friday rematch, but Andrade is predicting a finish of his own inside three rounds
John Lineker is no longer in possession of a ONE Championship belt, but he still considers himself the promotion’s bantamweight MMA champion.
It is easy to understand why.
The Brazilian held the belt until last October, when he missed weight for a title defence against his countryman Fabricio Andrade, and was stripped of the title of the result.
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The fight went ahead, but when Andrade shattered Lineker’s protective cup with a inadvertent low blow in the third round, it was ruled a no contest, which meant the division’s throne was still vacant when the two fighters left the Circle.
“It’s weird,” Lineker told the Post through an interpreter at the Rama Gardens Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand on Wednesday.
“I didn’t lose to him. I consider myself the champion. I am the champion, because Fabricio didn’t beat me.”
Lineker, 32, is in Bangkok for a rematch with Andrade, 25. The fight will headline the ONE Fight Night 7 card at Lumpinee Stadium – this time in a ring, not a cage – and the bantamweight title will be up for grabs.
Despite the inconclusive result of their first encounter, the prevailing opinion is that Andrade had taken control of the contest by the time it ended. Lineker has never denied that his rival was performing well, but believes he would have found a way to win the fight had he not been ruled out by a low blow.
“Independent of what was happening at that point, I would have fought, like always, to the last,” he said. “I had two and a half rounds to go, and the fight would have continued.”
Lineker had some success with his wrestling and jiu jitsu in the early phases of their fight, and will employ those skills again should he see an opportunity in the rematch.
However, his priority will be using the tools that earned him his “Hands of Stone” nickname: his boxing and his fight-ending knockout power.
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“If I have the opportunity to use my wrestling or jiu jitsu, that’s what I’m going to do, but I’m a boxer, and I like to knock people out,” he said. “That’s what I intend to do.
“I’ll be as aggressive as you’ve ever seen me.”
Andrade, unsurprisingly, has a different forecast for the fight.
He claims he has moved past the disappointing outcome of his first clash with Lineker – which he says left him “frustrated and angry” for weeks – and is bent on a more decisive outcome against his countryman.
“The end of the fight was not what I was expecting,” he told the Post in Bangkok. “I have a second chance to do everything different.
“I would say one round, but I will say inside of three I’m going to finish him.”
Lineker (35-9) won the ONE bantamweight title last March, when he knocked out fellow Brazilian Bibiano Fernandes – the most dominant champion in ONE history. Before that, he defeated Muin Gafurov, Kevin Belingon and Troy Worthen in his first three fights with the promotion. He previously competed for the UFC.
Andrade (8-2) became the bantamweight division’s top contender with wins in his first five ONE bouts, beating solid foes in Kwon Won-il, Jeremy Pacatiw, Li Kai Wen, Shoko Sato, and Mark Abelardo.
He also has extensive experience in Muay Thai and kickboxing competition.
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This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (www.scmp.com), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.
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