The case of John Lineker tells of a strange yet somewhat familiar scenario, one where a UFC-contracted fighter misses weight yet still manages to dominate his foes and reach title-contender status.
The fact remains that Lineker probably should find himself against someone like John Dodson, Joseph Benavidez or Ian McCall right now, but he does not. Why doesn't a Dodson, a Benavidez or a McCall stand in front of Lineker?
Perhaps that comes partially due to the depth (or lack thereof) at 125 pounds, but only so many problems in regards to UFC flyweights can come as a result of the lack of depth the division still experiences. At some point, the ultimate responsibility falls on the fighters themselves, especially one in the position in which Lineker sits.
Nobody ever questioned that "Hands of Stone" can fight. Anytime a man brings the punching power and ferocity that the Brazilian possesses, fans of solid fights and definitive finishes know they will witness something of beauty for as long as the bout lasts.
Still, it takes something incredible for a man to put previous instances of coming in overweight safely in the past, but by enlisting Mike Dolce it seems Lineker may find that something.
Given Dolce's track record of helping fighters make weight with relative ease, it raises a more optimistic question with Lineker, who faces Ali Bagautinov at UFC 169, than what one previously considered asking.
The time once existed when people might've asked who would come next for Lineker if he missed weight again and lost. Frankly, with the depth at flyweight and no public plans to consider an all-flyweight cast for a future season of The Ultimate Fighter, Lineker missing weight and beating Bagautinov forces Lineker to clean out the division until UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson stands as the only one left to fight.
Conversely, though, Lineker did not experience trouble making weight for either Yasuhiro Urushitani or Azamat Gashimov, and he looked strong in both performances. Henceforth, the question we raise will consider the possibility of Lineker making weight and beating a touted prospect like Bagautinov.
If he did, the UFC might look at a Dodson or a Benavidez. Whether or not Lineker would get McCall depends as much on McCall beating Brad Pickett when the UFC returns to London this March as it does Lineker making weight and beating Bagautinov.
However, no question exists that Lineker can make it a fight with the upper echelon of the UFC's speediest weight class.
The question is whether Dolce will prove enough to help Lineker get his mind right when it comes to hitting the mark on the scales, but the man known as "Hands of Stone" has hit the mark before, and for the sake of keeping his own potential title hopes, Lineker may find a way to do it again.