John Lineker didn’t end 2022 on the most positive of notes.
He lost the ONE bantamweight championship when he failed to maintain weight and hydration in the leadup to his title showdown with Fabricio Andrade at ONE on Prime Video 3 in Oct. 2022, and he was then hit with a low blow by his fiery compatriot when they squared off, resulting in the fight being ruled as a no-contest.
But the former ONE Championship titleholder has taken it all in stride. Andrade looked supremely in control of the action prior to the bout’s unfortunate ending, and Lineker has reviewed the tape to see how the second encounter, which goes down at ONE Fight Night 7 on Feb. 24, can go differently.
Studying the tussle has also given him insight into how those watching it could view it as a one-sided affair. He accepts that his opponent looked dominant, but is steadfast in his assurance that Andrade’s strikes were not phasing him and that looks can be deceiving.
“I watched my fight against him again. Inside the cage, it’s one thing. Watching it on TV, you have another vision. The fact is that I let him land a lot of jabs, which ended up hurting my face a lot. I wasn’t feeling his punches so much. I wasn’t afraid of his punches, so I took those jabs and ended up getting a pretty bruised face,” Lineker told ONE.
“Other than that, the only thing that hurt was the knee to the rib. And then he landed the knee in my groin. If it weren’t for that illegal move, he would have had to fight me for five rounds. And it would be a war until the end.”
Having the experience of sharing the ONE Circle with Andrade for the guts of three rounds has also allowed Lineker to identify where his rival is strong as well as where he needs to improve.
He believes that having got up close and personal with the top-ranked bantamwieght contender once before will stand to him when they square off for the rematch inside Bangkok, Thailand’s iconic Lumpinee Boxing Stadium, later this month.
“I noticed some gaps in [Andrade’s] game. I also noticed his strengths, so in some way, it will help, and I certainly won’t take as many hits as I did in the last fight. So, the fact that I’ve already fought him, I believe it can help with some aspects of the fight, like his movement and attacks,” Lineker said.
“Hands of Stone” plans to utilize the same aggressive style that has brought him to the apex of mixed martial arts. He has yet to be beaten in ONE, and he is not going to buckle under any of Andrade’s pressure.
In fact, Lineker plans to meet it head on. And as such, fans should expect another classic performance from the 32-year-old veteran.
“When I close my eyes, I see myself imposing my game, going up all the time, nonstop. And that’s what will happen. I’m training for this. One thing I never do in a fight is back off. I’m going to press all the time, and I’m going to do what I know how to do best, which is to fight,” he said.
“This fight will show that he didn’t beat me, and that he wasn’t the one who took my belt. But like I said, none of us have anything to prove. We’re going to enter the cage, do our best. And in the end, we’ll see who will leave with their arms raised.”
ONE Fight Night 7: Lineker vs. Andrade II airs on Feb. 24, live on Prime Video. The action begins for all U.S. and Canadian Amazon Prime subscribers at 8 p.m. ET.