Flyweight isn't yet a glamour division in the UFC. As skilled as champion Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson and others such as John "The Magician" Dodson and John Moraga are, their fights are too technical for some casual fans.
For the MMA fans who prefer more in-your-face action, the John "Hands of Stone" Lineker vs. Jose "No Chance" Maria bout may be more to their liking. This clash is scheduled to open the main card of UFC 163 on Saturday at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro.
While Lineker and Maria aren't slow pokes, their primary talents are based on speed and elusiveness. Both fighters want to launch bombs and are more comfortable attacking. Of the two, Maria looks to be the more well-rounded fighter.
The 31-year-old Brazilian has amassed an impressive 33-3 record with 15 wins by KO and 13 by submission. He's confident and keeps coming forward to apply pressure.
Lineker isn't the type of fighter who will back down, though. He's 21-6 with nine of his wins coming via KO. Most recently, he stopped Azamat Gashimov in the second round at UFC on FX 8 in May.
These two men could be set for one of the most exciting flyweight bouts in the division's history. Because it's placed on the main card in such a great city for MMA like Rio, the impact of a classic fight could be huge.
This one has clear "Fight of the Night" potential and could help endear the flyweight division to casual fans.
The Women's Bout Could Produce the KO of the Night
While Lineker vs. Maria has some "Knockout of the Night" potential as well, the lone women's bout on the card stands out as a possibility for the bonus too.
Amanda "Lioness" Nunes is a strong striker with a noticeable four-inch reach advantage over Sheila "The German Tank" Gaff. The latter was knocked out in her last bout with Sara McMann. She didn't show much in the way of defense in that fight and dealing with a much bigger fighter like Nunes could spell more trouble.
Nunes had six straight TKO wins from 2008-2011. Take a look at her stopping Julia Budd in Strikeforce.
The Lioness is a major striker matched against a shorter opponent coming off a nasty KO loss. That could get lead to a fat bonus on Saturday night for Nunes.
Which Fight Is a Better Bet for Submission of the Night?
Rani Yahya vs. Josh Clopton
Both Yahya and Clopton are submission specialists, but Yahya is one of the best in the sport. Of his 18 wins, 15 have come by submission. Clopton has far less experience, but he has won two of six fights by tapout.
Attempting to outgrapple Yahya would seem to be a losing proposition for Clopton, but he has yet to display the striking prowess to suggest he can gain an advantage in the stand-up.
This fight seems destined to go to the mat, and Yahya may come up with a submission win that garners him a bonus. He won "Submission of the Night" twice during his days in the WEC (WEC 40 and 42), but Saturday could mark his first time gaining the honor in the UFC.
Thailes Leites vs. Tom Watson
This bout has both "KO of the Night" and "Submission of the Night" potential. Watson is the more powerful and effective striker, but the question is whether he'll be able to impose his will on Leites.
The 32-year-old Brazilian is returning to the UFC for the first time since 2009 as an accomplished submission artist. He's finished 13 of his 20 wins with a submission, and he chains and transitions ground attacks well.
Watching him work on the ground can be a thing of beauty. If Watson is overzealous in his pursuit, Leites could lure him into a nasty trap.
If Leites gets Watson to the mat, he'll make him tap out, but will it be enough to earn the bonus?
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