The opening bout of the pay-per-view for UFC 163 ended with a bang, as John Lineker put away Jose Maria Tome with his ground-and-pound.
But Lineker, who came in overweight for the fight, was in trouble in the first round, himself, after taking a vicious spinning backfist. The favorite overcame the adversity en route to a second-round technical knockout win.
Here's what we learned from the fight Saturday night from HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil:
What We Learned about John Lineker
Lineker has the nickname "Hands of Stone," so we already knew he could hit hard. If anything, his TKO win over Jose Maria was just another example of what the Brazilian can do with his hands.
After a disappointing debut in the promotion against Louis Gaudinot, which he lost via submission, Lineker won his next two fights. He extended his streak to three in a row against Tome.
We now know that Lineker is a borderline top-five flyweight, and he certainly deserves a competitor on that list next time around. A fight against someone in the top three to five fighters at flyweight would give us a better idea about where Lineker's ceiling is.
What We Learned about Jose Maria Tome
Tome is extremely experienced in terms of quantity of fights, but UFC 163 showed us how inexperienced he is against top guys in the sport.
Take a look through his record, and you'll probably struggle to find a past opponent you're familiar with.
Still, the Brazilian had won 12 fights in a row prior to his UFC debut, and he hurt Lineker with a first-round spinning backfist that appeared to sway the momentum in his favor, at least for a moment.
Tome needs some time to get comfortable in the UFC and gain some experience against the sport's best. At this point in time, he's far from a top flyweight, and he won't be until he can parlay his experience into a UFC win.
What's Next for Lineker?
Perhaps the most obvious choice moving forward with Lineker is a match against Ian McCall. Both fighters won Saturday night, and both guys are in top-five flyweight range. The time frame on this one looks pretty good.
If the promotion gets a bit more creative, Lineker could fight the winner of Louis Gaudinot vs. Tim Elliot, which takes place at UFC 164. That option is intriguing because Gaudinot holds a submission win over Lineker.
What's Next for Tome?
While Lineker could match up against a fellow winner from UFC 163, the flyweight losers could find themselves locked in the Octagon against one another next go-around.
Ian McCall handed Iliarde Santos a loss on the preliminary card, so Santos vs. Tome is a strong option. The loser of that fight would likely find himself fighting in a different promotion.
Of course, the UFC may elect to match Tome up against any unranked flyweight.