Even as a bantamweight, the struggles at the scale continue for former flyweight John Lineker.
Set to headline tomorrow night's UFC Fight Night 96 in Portland, Ore. against John Dodson, Lineker missed weight for a record fifth time in his 12-fight UFC career. Lineker stepped on the scale at 136.5 pounds, a half pound heavier than the allowed limit, and will be fined 20 percent of his purse.
But beyond the financial sanctions and the stigma of being labeled unprofessional, Lineker now potentially faces an even larger penalty -- he may have just punched his ticket out of the bantamweight title race.
Currently riding a five-fight win streak, including three-straight victories since moving up to bantamweight, Lineker was on the short list to challenge incumbent champion Dominick Cruz, should he top Dodson tomorrow night. However, with yet another failure at the scale, it is fitting to believe that Lineker will ultimately be skipped over in favor of the undefeated Cody Garbrandt, who became an instant frontrunner in the bantamweight title picture following a 48-second knockout of Takeya Mizugaki at UFC 202.
On only one occasion has a UFC title challenger missed weight; middleweight Travis Lutter failed to make the 185-pound limit against Anderson Silva in 2007. Their bout at UFC 67 was changed to a non-title affair, and Lutter quickly fizzled out of the UFC, submitting to a Silva triangle choke, followed by a knockout loss to Rich Franklin at UFC 83.
Former UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks, who missed weight in his most recent bout against Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 200, and failed to even make it to weigh ins at UFC 192, also nearly missed weight for a UFC 171 title shot. Needing an extra hour to make the welterweight limit, Hendricks was informed that, should he not make the weight, he would not be eligible to fight for the belt, while opponent Robbie Lawler would still have a chance at the championship. Hendricks would go on to make the weight and win the belt.
Bellator also dealt with a similar issue in May 2015, when former middleweight champion Brandon Halsey failed to make weight for a championship bout against Kendall Grove. Halsey was immediately stripped of his title.
And while Lineker has never competed for a title, it is now difficult to imagine a scenario where the UFC would invest legitimate sums to promote a fighter who can not be trusted to fulfill a major part of a bout agreement. And despite showing flashes of brilliance inside the Octagon, Lineker may have just eliminated himself, at least temporarily, from the title picture.
In his limited defense, Lineker's most recent weight failure is his first as a bantamweight. His four previous misses came when he was competing in the flyweight division. But what credence can be given to wins in catchweight bouts?
Lineker is currently ranked third by the UFC, behind former champion T.J. Dillashaw and fellow Brazilian Raphael Assuncao, but it's unlikely that if he wins Saturday that he will be given a title shot until he can prove he can make weight.
In addition to Lineker, two other Brazilians also missed weight. Hacran Dias missed by 2.5 pounds, coming in at 148.5. Alex Oliveira, who is one half of the UFC Portland co-main event, also failed at the scales, weighing in at a staggering 5.5 pounds over the lightweight limit for his bout with Will Brooks.
Watch Brooks' response to Oliveira's weight below.