Harris is an experienced Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 125-pounder set to fight in his native Great Britain for the second time this year. "Billy" will face off against a young and dangerous contender in the form of former Jungle Fight bantamweight champion Lineker. The bout promises to be an interesting contrast of mixed martial arts (MMA) styles as Lineker is known for his vicious knockouts while Harris has a brutal array of submissions.
English mixed martial arts (MMA) fans deserve a solid card after their favorite native fighter Michael Bisping was unfortunately forced to withdraw from UFN 30's main event with a detached retina (details).
This fight will give a huge boost to the winner because the UFC flyweight division is one of the least-stacked with talent right now. Let's take a look at the keys to victory for Phil Harris vs. John Lineker:
Record: 22-10 (1) overall, 1-1 UFC
Key Losses: Jose Aldo (UK-1 Fight Night)
Keys to Victory: The 30-year-old Harris has put together a rather lengthy MMA career fighting mainly in the U.K. His fight at UFN 30 will be his third trip to the Octagon and he's in for a stiff test when he meets up with "Hands of Stone" in Manchester.
Harris' main strength is his Brazilian jiu-jitsu as he's used it to submit 13 opponents. That's a high number and Lineker has tapped out in exactly half of his six losses. Harris will look to take this fight to the ground in order to neutralize his younger foe's striking prowess.
Making this fight ugly will be absolutely crucial to Harris picking up a win in front of his hometown fans. The fact that he's facing such an explosive striker does not bode well for him. In fact, he's made it to the judges' scorecards only once in his 10 losses.
Harris is 1-1 in UFC so the time to win is now. He'll need to begin separating himself from the rest of the pack if he wants to ever be competitive in the UFC flyweight division. To win this bout, Harris needs to have shored up his striking game, both offensively and defensively. If he gets caught with a few big shots early on, it could be a short night for "Billy."
Submissions are where his advantage lies and you can bet he'll be looking for them often. He'll have to weather a storm from Lineker before he can lock up any dangerous holds. Lineker will also have the speed advantage, so Harris needs to be smarter.
Record: 22-6 overall, 3-1 UFC
Key Losses: Louis Gaudinot (UFC on FOX 3)
Keys to Victory: The 23-year-old Lineker is a rising Brazilian who has rattled off three straight victories inside the Octagon. His last two wins were technical knockouts, so Lineker is on a roll.
He won the Jungle Fight bantamweight championship in September 2011 before making his way to UFC. Lineker could make a strong case toward a title shot by winning his fourth straight at UFN 30.
To do so, he'll utilize his fast and dangerous striking, a skillset that has propelled him to 10 knockouts throughout his career. His opponent definitely has the tendency of being finished and that formula mixes perfectly with Lineker's strategy.
Despite being from Brazil, it's actually Harris who emphasizes jiu-jitsu. Lineker has tapped out just three opponents, each time via rear naked choke. He doesn't have an especially diverse or specialized submission game and can be tapped out himself.
But he usually doesn't need to venture into the grappling game thanks to his power punches.
Lineker will look to avoid takedowns and keep the fight standing. He'll need a significant amount of space to repeatedly land shots, so his speed advantage should help him get loose quick. Harris may have the crowd behind him at UFN 30, but Lineker has the momentum.
The sky could be the limit for Lineker and he'll convince the UFC brass that he's ready to face off against a top five opponent if he gets past Harris.
Bottom Line from Manchester: This fight features one of MMA's classic matchups of striker versus grappler. Although Harris is fighting in his own backyard and has the edge in experience, Lineker has shown to be the much more dynamic striker.
Lineker could lose to a submission, but he'll likely have to be extremely careless to fall in such a fashion. If he keeps the fight standing and finds a home for his power strikes, "Hands of Stone" will add a third consecutive knockout finish to his record.
Harris will have to keep his chin down because it's going to be tested at Phones4u Arena this Saturday. If he wants to score the upset and get the British crowd riled up, he'll need to be on top of his game. It'll be no easy task to derail Lineker's momentum.
There are precious few contenders at the top of the UFC 125-pound division. John Dodson scored an impressive knockout over Darrell Montague at UFC 166 (see it here) and could be a potential opponent for Lineker if he defeats Harris.
The number five-ranked "Hands of Stone" doesn't quite have the top opponent he needs at UFN 30, but he certainly could lose a lot by throwing caution to the wind. This fight is arguably the biggest fight of his promising career because of the potential win streak it involves.
Expect Lineker to look for the finish with authority in Manchester. Harris has been fighting in front of his British fans for almost 10 years now, but it's going to take a very special finishing hold to get past Lineker at UFN 30 this weekend.
John Lineker has the chance to establish himself as a player at flyweight. Will he get the job done at UFC Fight Night 30 in Manchester?