It’s not a former champion, but Jimmie Rivera once again has a tough test ahead at UFC 219.
After an early report by MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani, the UFC on Tuesday announced the replacement for Dominick Cruz at UFC 219. It’s none other than former flyweight contender turned bantamweight John Lineker. Lineker will take on surging bantamweight Jimmie Rivera at the UFC’s year-end show.
Lineker (30-8) is fresh off a win over Marlon Vera at UFC Sao Paulo last month. Picking up wins in seven of his past eight fights, the only blemish on his record of late is a loss to current 135lb champ T.J. Dillashaw. Having joined the UFC in 2012, Lineker was long expected to be a threat to flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. Weight troubles, however, saw him bounced from the 125lb division. Since joining the UFC’s bantamweight ranks (he previously competed at the weight outside the promotion), Lineker has gone 5-1.
With a couple of high profile wins, Lineker could quickly make a case for a title shot.
Rivera, meanwhile, loses a chance at Cruz, but gains an opponent known as one of the most powerful among the lower weight classes. The New Jersey native is on a ridiculous 20-fight win streak that includes a unanimous decision victory against Urijah Faber. At 21–1 as a pro, another win could punch his ticket to a bout with Dillashaw. Rivera has not, in fact, tasted defeat since 2008, and a ten-year, twenty-fight plus win streak would be hard to argue against.
Following the announcement that former 135lb champ Cruz was injured, Lineker campaigned hard to step in. He’s getting his wish come December 30, when UFC 219 goes down at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. A women’s featherweight title fight between Cris Cyborg and Holly Holm has also been announced for the event.