Forced out of UFC 219, John Lineker will have to go under the knife.
The Brazilian bantamweight stepped up to face Jimmie Rivera on short notice in Las Vegas on Dec. 30, replacing an injured Dominick Cruz, but MMA Fighting broke the news on Sunday that Lineker would also be out of the card due to a serious tooth infection.
“I noticed this when I came to Las Vegas earlier,” Lineker told MMA Fighting on Tuesday, as he was flying back to Brazil. “I didn’t know how bad it was a week ago. I started to feel the pain, but I thought it was something related to the root canal treatment I did three weeks ago. When I talked to a second doctor — the first one didn’t have an answer for the pain —, they found this infection.
“I kept training hard despite the pain, but the pain kept getting worse a week before fight week. I decided to go to Vegas early so the UFC doctor could see how I was because I wanted to fight no matter what, but he saw that I wasn’t fit to fight and would have to do something about it.”
With Rivera now pulled from the card, Lineker apologized to his fellow contender, and hopes to meet him next year.
“I’ve already apologized to Rivera, the UFC, Dana (White), Sean (Shelby) and every fan that was waiting for this fight,” he said. “I will get back to my 100 percent and come back as quick as possible to fight — and who knows, maybe it’s against him.”
The UFC has appointed Lineker to have tooth surgery Wednesday in Las Vegas, but the Brazilian decided to return to his hometown and undergo surgery close to home.
“I wasn’t in the mood of staying there,” Lineker said. “With the medication I’m taking, I can handle the pain. I want to come back as soon as possible.”
Lineker is expected to arrive in Paranagua at 11 a.m. Thursday, and will have surgery later that day. He’s expected to be cleared to train in 15 days.
“My wife has taken care of everything already,” he said. “I will have the procedure as soon as I get there. I want to get better and get back to training and fighting as soon as possible.”
“Hands of Stone” fought only once in 2017, defeating Marlon Vera via decision in October to return to the winning column after a December 2016 loss to T.J. Dillashaw. Lineker had a fractured jaw in his UFC 207 loss and had to undergo surgery earlier this year.