The Brazilian star scored an impressive first-round knockout of American wrestling sensation Troy “Pretty Boy” Worthen in their main event showdown at “ONE on TNT III,” which aired on Wednesday, 21 April.
In the process, he may have punched his ticket to challenge ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes later in 2021.
After a touch of the gloves, Lineker walked forward and immediately backed up his rival to the Circle Wall.
Worthen bounced around, created some space, and threw a roundhouse kick, but the Brazilian blocked it and let his powerful “Hands of Stone” loose. Lineker connected with a right to the Sanford MMA product’s back and a pair of shovel hooks to the body, and though “Pretty Boy” quickly escaped to the other side of the Circle, the menacing Brazilian followed.
The American southpaw tried again with his strong-side roundhouse kick, but Lineker blocked it with his forearms once more and instantly retaliated with a stiff punch to the breadbasket.
Lineker then walked forward, measured Worthen up, whiffed with a looping right hook, and ate a straight right from “Pretty Boy.” But that didn’t slow down the Brazilian dynamo, who bulldozed his way forward with massive left and right hooks that often found the body and head.
Worthen briefly found his way out of danger, but the Brazilian continued to throw his anvils, though one of them landed below the belt, which caused a brief pause in the action.
When the fight resumed, Worthen continued to back away and looked for ways to disrupt the top-ranked bantamweight contender’s rhythm – be it with a leg kick, a punch, or some sort of fake.
None of those tactics broke Lineker’s focus, however. The Brazilian kept marching down his foe, connected with a string of massive body shots, and went to the head when the American lowered his hands to defend.
“Pretty Boy” looked like he was about to turn the tide when he caught his hard-hitting rival with a left cross straight down the pipe, which made “Hands of Stone” stumble backward.
But the Brazilian got back up to his feet, walked forward as if nothing happened, and threw alternating right and left hooks at Worthen, who pulled for the clinch. From there, he unloaded two knees at the veteran before releasing his grasp and circling away.
Although Worthen backed away and picked his shots, Lineker always made sure to respond with huge punches in unison.
With less than two minutes to go in the opening stanza, the American wrestling star switched gears and went for his first takedown. He shot under Lineker’s jab, latched onto a double-leg, and tried driving his foe to the mat. But “Hands of Stone” posted his right arm on the canvas and brilliantly defended the attempt to force the bout to remain upright.
“Pretty Boy” landed another left hand, but the top-ranked bantamweight absorbed it as he leaned forward and smashed his rival with an overhand right. The Sanford MMA star ate the shot, and as he went for a roundhouse kick, the Brazilian kicked his leg out from under him.
Worthen returned to his feet for a second time, but he wouldn’t stay there much longer.
While the American wrestler frequently had his back toward the Circle Wall, he started to weasel forward with his punches, which actually had “Hands of Stone” moving away. But when Worthen went for a jab, Lineker slipped it and threw a powerful right cross to the chin, which dropped his rival like a pile of bricks.
The lone ground punch knocked “Pretty Boy” out cold and forced referee Mohamed Sulaiman to stop the contest at the 4:35 mark of round one.
By becoming the first person to finish Worthen, Lineker earned his 16th knockout victory, elevated his career record to 34-9, and remains unbeaten in ONE Championship.
The Brazilian previously said that he would “knock everybody out” until he won the ONE Bantamweight World Title, and this highlight-reel win may have earned him a crack at Fernandes.
“I came here to be a champ,” Lineker said following his victory. “I want Bibiano. I know that I am better than him. I am the best and I [will] show all the world that I will be the best in the world.”