John Lineker never quit pursuing his prey.
The former Jungle Fight champion extended his winning streak to six fights and improved his position in the Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight pecking order with a split decision over John Dodson in the UFC Fight Night 96 “Lineker vs. Dodson” headliner on Saturday at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon. Judges Sal D’Amato and Glenn Trowbridge saw it 48-47 for Lineker, while Marcos Rosales cast a dissenting 48-47 nod in Dodson’s direction.
Both men stayed true to their roots. Dodson (18-8, 7-3 UFC) utilized circular movement and quick hands, forcing the notoriously powerful Brazilian to chase him around the cage for the better part of five rounds. Lineker obliged and encountered stiff resistance whenever he managed to corner “The Magician.” Dodson clipped him with several head kicks and sweeping left hooks, but his output left something to be desired. The same could not be said for Lineker (29-7, 10-2 UFC), who cut loose with punches to the body and head for the full 25 minutes.
Dodson did some of his best work in the fifth round, where he ripped a series of left hooks into the tiring Lineker’s head, executed a takedown and advanced to the back. He landed another head kick for good measure in the closing seconds, though it came in a losing effort.
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Oliveira Stops Compromised Brooks
Alex Oliveira disposed of former Bellator MMA champion Will Brooks with third-round ground-and-pound in their lightweight co-main event. Brooks (18-2, 1-1 UFC) succumbed to punches 3:30 into round three, his nine-fight winning streak snapped.
Oliveira (15-4-1, 5-2 UFC) -- who missed weight for the match by 5.5 pounds -- engaged the American Top Team rep in the clinch, as he won the underhook battle and bullied him in close quarters. Brooks appeared to suffer a rib injury sometime in the first round, and though he rallied by twice taking the Brazilian’s back in the second, it became clear he was compromised. Oliveira took advantage of the situation. He knocked down an off-balance Brooks with a straight right hand in round three and later executed a takedown, his opponent wincing in obvious pain. Oliveira trapped the Chicago native along the base of the cage and unleashed a series of unabated left hands, prompting referee Herb Dean to act.
Afterward, Oliveira made an obscene gesture in his fallen opponent’s direction. Brooks responded by firing his mouthpiece at the Tata Fight Team standout.
Ottow Outduels Reeling Burkman
A heavy dose of leg kicks and sporadic punching combinations carried King of the Cage and Resurrection Fighting Alliance alum Zak Ottow to a split decision over Joshua Burkman in a featured battle at 170 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28: Glenn Trowbridge for Burkman, Sal D’Amato and Jeff Mullen for Ottow.
A replacement for the injured Bobby Green, Ottow chewed up both of “The Ultimate Fighter 2” graduate’s legs with repeated shin-to-thigh contact. Burkman (28-14, 6-9 UFC) countered effectively at times but seemed to lack conviction on his punches and too often allowed his counterpart to initiate the action. The two welterweights traded takedowns in a frenetic finish to round three. Ottow (14-3, 1-0 UFC) got the better of the exchange, as he wheeled to the back and threatened with a rear-naked choke as the horn sounded.
Burkman has lost four of his past five bouts.
Moreno Guillotine Stuns Smolka
Entram Gym export Brandon Moreno submitted the heavily favored Louis Smolka with a guillotine choke in the first round of their flyweight showcase. A replacement for the injured Sergio Pettis, Moreno (12-3, 1-0 UFC) finished it 2:23 into round one.
The Mexican prospect struck for a takedown inside the first 30 seconds and settled in full guard. Smolka (11-2, 5-2 UFC) escaped to his feet but left his neck exposed on an attempted single-leg. Moreno bit down on the guillotine, rolled to a mounted position and then readjusted his grip to force a reluctant tapout from the former Pacific Xtreme Combat champion.
Moreno, 22, has rattled off nine straight wins.