LAS VEGAS — TJ Dillashaw left no doubt after his latest victory that he is the clear-cut No. 1 contender at 135-pounds.
Dillashaw said going into UFC 207 that he wanted to make a statement with his performance against Lineker, and he certainly put an exclamation point at the end with a lopsided victory over the heavy-handed Brazilian.
Like always, Dillashaw set the pace in the early going by peppering Lineker with punches and kicks from the outside while using superior footwork to keep his opponent from landing virtually anything in return.
Dillashaw even mixed in some beautiful takedowns to keep Lineker guessing throughout the opening round.
Things got even worse for Lineker in round two after Dillashaw took the fight to the mat and absolutely mauled him on the ground.
Dillashaw held Lineker down while pummeling him with punches and elbows from the top and the veteran knockout artist had no defense except to cover up while trying his best to push the former bantamweight champion off of him.
To his credit, Lineker persevered the punishing offensive onslaught, but Dillashaw was clearly in control with only five minutes remaining.
After a few exchanges on the feet in round three, Dillashaw once again took Lineker to the ground where he continued his onslaught, looking for punches and even fishing for submissions at times.
With about a minute to go in the fight, Lineker worked his way back to the feet and tried desperately to stalk Dillashaw across the cage, but he just couldn’t find a home for his punches as the final horn signified the end of the bantamweight bout.
All three judges scored the fight 30-26, giving Dillashaw his second straight win since losing the title in a very close split decision to Dominick Cruz earlier this year.
Afterwards, Dillashaw made it clear that he’s the next man in line to face the winner of the UFC 207 co-main event between Cruz and Cody Garbrandt.
“I want my belt. That’s my belt. Dominick Cruz is a (expletive). He’s running from me,” Dillashaw said.
“He’s running. He knows I won it. I want my belt back.”
Considering Dillashaw’s last two performances with wins over Lineker and top five contender Raphael Assuncao coupled with his ultra close bout against Cruz the last time out, it’s difficult to believe that he won’t be the next man in line to fight for the bantamweight title after Friday night is finished.