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UFC 191's John Lineker on Francisco Rivera fight: 'We don't know if he wants to trade punches with me'

It's a bantamweight slugfest when Lineker debuts in his new 135-pound home against "Cisco."

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Former Flyweight John Lineker (25-7) is bringing his "Hands of Stone" to the Bantamweight division tonight (Sat. Sept. 5, 2015), facing No. 12-ranked Francisco Rivera 11-4-(1) at the UFC 191 pay-per-view (PPV).

Lineker went 6-2 in UFC as a flyweight, collapsing the likes of Ian McCall and Alptekin Ozkilic, before weight issues had his boss Dana White force him to move up a division. The 25-year-old's last victory came against the former 125-pound title challenger McCall back in January and it was one that he feels granted him a shot at 125-pound king Demetrious Johnson.

"I was sad because that win over Ian McCall would get me a title shot," Lineker told MMAFighting.com "I understand Dana White making me move up to Bantamweight. That's my original weight class to begin with. I won the Jungle Fight title in this division."

Bantamweight was indeed Lineker's weight class before his time fighting in UFC, where he racked up a 19-5 record.

This experience has Lineker feeling pretty good about his chances of taking out "Cisco," who mind you has three knockouts victories at bantamweight in UFC (four if you count his knockout of Roland Delorme in July 2012, which was overturned due to a failed drug test).

"I fight better when I'm fighting taller opponents," said Lineker. "I'm used to fighting taller opponents, so that's not an issue for me. I adapt better to this type of fight."

Speaking of Rivera, he thinks Lineker "might have an easier weight cut," leading to a bigger gas tank on part of the Brazilian. He'll also be tasked with turning away a fighter who hasn't been knocked out in 32 professional fights.

Only two of Lineker's eight UFC bouts have lasted 15 minutes and though he was well-ranked in the flyweight division -- No. 8 at the moment in UFC's official rankings -- he's in no rush to challenge the champion T.J. Dillashaw (who has his hands full) in his new weight class.

"What I like the most about this fight is that he likes to trade punches, just like me, but we don’t know if he wants to trade punches with me," Lineker said of Rivera, adding. "I want to slowly move up the bantamweight rankings. One day I'll get the chance to fight the champion. I want to fight well and win, and leave this talk for later."

If he were to win, I would LOVE for him to face-off with another fellow heavy-hitting Brazilian, who just so happened to score a new five-fight UFC deal last month.

Who's up for a battle of bantamweight prospects?

Remember to stay with MMAmania.com for all of your UFC 191: "Johnson vs. Dodson 2" coverage, including live updates and play-by-play, post-fight recaps and analysis ... plus much more!

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