Former ONE bantamweight MMA world champion John Lineker only just returned to winning ways a month ago, but he’s already itching to get back to work.
Having escaped ONE Fight Night 13 relatively unscathed, “Hands of Stone” is preparing for a quick turnaround when he meets Stephen Loman on Saturday, September 30, at ONE Fight Night 14: Stamp vs. Ham.
Before facing former featherweight standout Kim Jae Woong on August 5, Lineker knew he had to show out to stay in the conversation.
The top-ranked bantamweight contender had gone without a win since his world title victory over Bibiano Fernandes in March 2022 and had failed to best Fabricio Andrade on two occasions – so victory was crucial.
Lineker was well aware of the South Korean’s punching power heading into their battle, but it caught him off guard when Kim threw grappling into the mix.
Nonetheless, he held his nerve and managed to land a bout-ending strike on “The Fighting God” with four seconds left on the clock, showing the fight IQ his years in competition has developed to perfection.
“Kim Jae Woong surprised me a lot when he put me down. It was something I didn’t expect,” he said.
“I didn’t imagine he would come up with that strategy. I thought he was going to fight me standing up because he has a good boxing game and works well from medium to long distance.
“I thought it would be a stand-up fight. But every fight is a story. I stayed calm and focused on my goal.”
Despite the win against Kim, Lineker’s eagerness for a firefight saw him have to battle his back into contention. He might not get that chance against Loman, so he’ll have to be more measured in his approach.
“The Sniper” has quietly been making his way up the bantamweight rankings, and he’s full of confidence, given he’s in the midst of an 11-fight winning streak and holds the No. 2-ranked contender’s spot.
With both men holding the highest ranks in the division, Lineker knows this is another pivotal clash in the world title standings. It’s a game of fine margins. And this time, he’ll be ready for wherever the fight takes him.
“Loman is a tough athlete, a guy who goes after his opponents all the time. For sure we will have a great fight,” he said.
“He has shown that he also wants to fight for the title. Loman is a very versatile guy who fights well both standing and on the ground.
“I’m sure it will be a great fight – a very fun fight. We’ll put on a great show for the fans.”