José Maria Tomé, formerly recognized as one of the top flyweights not signed by the UFC, makes his UFC debut against John “Hands of Stone” Lineker (ranked #7) in an exciting flyweight bout on this weekend’s UFC 163 card. Another fight that has been hit by the injury bug as Lineker was originally contracted to fight Phil Harris, but Harris was forced to pull out of the fight with a broken orbital bone. His replacement, Tomé, is excited to finally make his UFC debut and at the age of 33, taking this fight was a no brainer as time is of the essence.

Although Tomé is the one making his UFC debut, the fellow Brazilian is no stranger to MMA actually having fought nine more times than his opponent Lineker. Fighting for the Renovacao Fight Team, the top gym in Luta Livre Brazil, Tomé is very focused on finishing his fights earning himself 28 finishes out of 23 victories. With 15 of those finishes being KO’s and 13 being submissions, Tomé has made it clear that he can finish the fight anywhere it goes.

With 36 professional bouts, Tomé has only been on the losing side three times with one of those losses coming from current UFC prospect Jussier da Silva, and one coming from one of the only flyweights that was a larger prospect than Tomé in Leandro Higo. Tomé has not been knocked out in his professional career but has been submitted all three times. However, Currently riding a 16 fight unbeaten streak, Tomé is looking to make a statement against “Hands of Stone” Lineker. 

But Lineker did not earn the nickname “Hands of Stone” by utilizing submissions as nine of his wins come by way of knockout. His most recent and his most notable win is over current UFC prospect Azamat Gashimov from Russia, who he defeated via TKO in the second round back in May of this year.  Lineker is one of those rare flyweights, much like John Dodson, who has the ability to knock out his opponent in the blink of an eye. His punches may not be the most technical, but they are thrown with bad intentions. And if Tomé gets overly aggressive leaving his hands down or makes him self vulnerable like he is known to do when he gets ahead in a fight, almost to the level of taunting his opponent, “Hands of Stone” may enlighten Tomé as to where his nickname came from.

Lineker is no doubt going to look to stay at a range and wait to land the power shot on Tomé early, and if he doesn’t find it he will look to pick him apart for three rounds and look for any opening available. Tomé, on the other hand, should look to also stay at a range but utilize lengthy kicks until he sees an opening for a take down where he will no doubt have a grappling advantage over Lineker. Tomé is a more than capable striker, but he has a far greater advantage on the ground that he should utilize especially against a power puncher like Lineker. However, the take down will not be easy to get as Lineker showed great defense against Gashimov which is why he will have to mix it up rather than just shoot in. 

Prediction: John Lineker def José Maria Tomé via 2nd round KO (punch) 

I feel as though Tomé may have become too comfortable fighting lesser competition in his local circuit close to his home town of Luta Livre, and I feel that he may not be prepared enough for the big leagues. On top of that, he is known to get very cocky often dropping his hands to his waist which is a very bad habit to have (but also one that is hard to break when you’ve been fighting the same way for 36 professional fight) against a power puncher like Lineker. I feel that once Tomé shakes the first round UFC gitters, he will become confident in the second round and begin to taunt Lineker. He will then experience what it feels like to taunt opponents inside one of the worlds biggest platforms for MMA and he will receive an explosive, fight stopping right hand from Lineker.