John Lineker should face Ian McCall to determine who receives the next shot at the UFC flyweight title.
The promotion recently announced that 125-pound champion Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson will take on challenger Chris "Kamikaze" Cariaso at UFC 177 in Sacramento, prompting the MMA universe to scratch its collective head.
Ranked No. 8 in the UFC's official standings, Cariaso seemingly leapfrogged some more worthy competitors, Lineker and McCall included.
Kamikaze has yet to defeat a Top 10 flyweight inside the Octagon, and his overall UFC record—a respectable 7-3—contains just one victory via finish.
Mighty Mouse will come into this fight as the heavy favorite, and rightly so. The champ is on a six-fight winning streak, defeating top challengers such as Joseph Benavidez, John Dodson and Ali Bagautinov along the way. Compared to Cariaso's resume, well, there is no comparison.
If (or when) Johnson disposes of Cariaso, the flyweight division will need another contender to step up, and the winner of a Lineker vs. McCall fight would be perfect to get the division back on track.
Lineker is 5-2 inside the Octagon, most recently beating Alptekin Ozkilic via TKO. In February, Lineker lost to Bagautinov, a fighter who tested positive for recombinant human erythropoietin (EPO) after his title fight with Johnson at UFC 174 and will serve a one-year suspension.
While Bagautinov did not test positive in the aftermath of his fight with Lineker, the failed test does take a little shine away from that win.
Despite this slip-up against Bagautinov, Lineker has won five of his last six fights—four via knockout.
He's one of a few flyweight contenders who boast legitimate one-shot knockout power, and he violently pursues the finish, even late in fights he's clearly winning. He brings nonstop ferocity, exactly the kind of style that could force Johnson into some hairy situations.
McCall, meanwhile, fought Johnson to a draw at UFC on FX 2 in 2012. Late in that fight, McCall mounted Johnson and delivered some heavy ground-and-pound shots until the final bell, dominating the current champ like nobody had before (or since).
While Uncle Creepy's overall UFC record doesn't look fantastic at 2-2-1, it's worth noting that his draw came against Johnson, and his two losses were split between Johnson and Benavidez.
Currently on a two-fight winning streak over Iliarde Santos and Brad Pickett, McCall looks rejuvenated and reinvigorated in the flyweight division, and his past success over Johnson adds a nice scoop of intrigue to a potential trilogy.
Anything can happen in MMA, but Cariaso's chances of defeating Johnson are paltry at best, and the champ will need to take on somebody higher up the ladder in his subsequent defense.
McCall and Lineker practically agreed to the fight already, so the UFC has a pretty simple job to do.
Call up McCall, call up Lineker, send some papers and get them to sign on the dotted line.
It's the fight the flyweight division and its champion deserve.