Jimmie Rivera now has a different sort of challenge on his hands at UFC 219, following the withdrawal of original opponent Dominick Cruz.
Having waited patiently to learn the name of his new foe, Rivera got the news and name yesterday: John Lineker.
As far removed from Cruz, in terms of fighting style and personality, as a fighter could possibly be, Lineker has won seven of his last eight fights, losing only to current bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw, and has been calling for a December 30 fight with Rivera ever since discovering Cruz had injured his arm in camp.
He’s now got his wish.
Rivera, 21-1, has won 20 fights in a row, a run stretching back to 2009, and was last seen defeating Thomas Almeida via decision in July. The 28-year-old’s biggest win to date was the decision he scored against former WEC champion Urijah Faber last September.
Lineker, 30-8, defeated Marlon Vera by decision last month, and is known for his aggressive, all-action style, as well as his knockout power. Far from a stylist or a tactician, the 27-year-old Brazilian shares little in common with Cruz, Rivera’s original opponent, but brings dangers and shapes all of his own and is the best possible alternate six weeks from fight night.