Hot prospect John Lineker (right) won Jungle Fight gold on Saturday night. | File photo: Gleidson Venga
SAO PAULO -- Although it did not come as easily as many thought it would, John Lineker finally captured the Jungle Fight bantamweight title in the main event of Jungle Fight 32.
Following three decisive wins in a row with the promotion, the red-hot Lineker faced veteran Iliarde Sabino Belo dos Santos for the vacant 135-pound strap Saturday at Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Lineker dropped and pounced upon dos Santos early in the first round, and it looked as though the Parana-based fighter would add another knockout to his resume. The Ulisses Pereira-trained dos Santos came back strong in the second, however, twice buckling his opponent with punches.
The final period would determine the bout and, in the end, Lineker was able to land enough power-punches and well-timed takedowns to convince two of three judges. The split verdict was awarded to Lineker, much to the protest of dos Santos, who had already dropped a contested split decision to Renato Carneiro earlier in the year.
“I’m going to fulfill my dream of fighting in the UFC,” a teary-eyed Lineker said in his post-fight interview. “It wasn’t easy to get here. I just have to keep going forward and eventually I’ll be fighting outside Brazil.”
With his 13th consecutive victory, Lineker moved his career mark to 19-5, including eight knockouts and three submissions.
Lightweight prospect Neilson Gomes stretched his winning streak to nine while making quick work of Californian Jeremy Umphries. After a brief feeling-out process, Gomes brought Umphries into his guard. From then on, it was a grappling clinic, as the Champion Team product managed to sweep, pass guard, secure the back and finally sink in the rear-naked choke, forcing Umphries to tap at 2:15 of round one.
In the night’s fastest contest, Charles Michael completely overwhelmed favorite Paulo Henrique Garcia Rodrigues with punches from the opening horn to take a stoppage win only seven seconds into the opening stanza. As soon as the fight started, Michael connected with a one-two combo that sent Lyoto Machida’s training partner to the canvas and left referee Douglas Ayres with no other option but to stop the fight.
Gracie Fusion’s Wendell Oliveira also kept a torrid paced as he punched out Tiago Passos to record his eighth straight win. Looking twice as big as his opponent, Oliveira completely dominated the fight, punishing Passos with punches for one and a half rounds until getting the knockout with a left-handed jab at 3:36 of the second round.
In light heavyweight action, Bruno Capelosa overcame a few rough spots in the first round to win his fight against Dirlei Brundestuki, who asked out of the fight while still standing at 2:46 of round three.
In the show’s opening bout, X-Gym product Douglas Silva made a successful MMA debut with recent UFC signee Erick Silva in his corner, submitting Joao Paulo de Carvalho with an armbar at 3:54 of the first period.