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John Lineker hoping for July return after surgery for broken jaw

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Linker vs Font Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

John Lineker was on fire following his move up to 135 pounds back in 2015. The powerful Brazilian striker won his first four bouts as a UFC bantamweight, including a vicious knockout finish of former top contender Michael McDonald. It was all looking up for Lineker after defeating John Dodson in a main event at UFC Fight Night 96, but former UFC champion T.J. Dillashaw ruined the party when he took “Hands of Stone” out in style at UFC 207 this past December.

Dillashaw ended up breaking Lineker’s jaw in the first round and proceeded to clobber the youngster for a total of 15 minutes in what can easily be considered Lineker’s most disappointing professional defeat to date. Since losing his divisional footing opposite Dillashaw, Lineker has been forced to heal his injured jaw.

"I’m already training well,” said Lineker in a recent interview with MMA Fighting. "I can’t get hit in the head yet. I’m using a helmet, but I’m already training well.”

At just 26 years of age, Lineker should quickly get back into the thick of things at 135 pounds when he makes his return. If the Brazilian had it his way, he’d be able to challenge a former champion his first fight back.

"I don’t believe the UFC will give me Dominick Cruz,” added Lineker. "They will definitely give me someone else. I’m not sure who I’ll fight next, but it’s definitely not Dominick Cruz.

"I’m here to fight anyone. I want to go back in there and put on a fight."

Lineker certainly has some adjustments to make before challenging the likes of current champion Cody Garbrandt, former kingpin Dominick Cruz and Dillashaw, again, but he’s just dangerous enough inside of the Octagon to pull off a momentous return.

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