For the years the storyline surrounding Brazilian striker John Lineker has been one of potential unrealized. The talk from the outset was of his blazingly-fast hands and knockout power, and the waves he was destined to make in the 125-pound division, but time after time he failed to make the flyweight cutoff. It was frustrating, like a promise unfilled is frustrating, and all we could feel for Lineker was disappointment.

Tonight’s UFC 191 prelim bout, which took place with Francisco Rivera standing in the opposite end of the cage, has gone a long way to change all that.

First of all, Lineker finally said “screw it” to any pretenses of being a flyweight, and embraced the notion of being counted among the 135-pounders of the bantamweight division. Second, he went toe-to-toe with Rivera in an amazing shootout against the cage, and though he ate more than a couple doses of five-knuckle love to the dome, kept firing like he was holding a machine gun.

Soon the tough Rivera was wobbled, then stumbling, and when he fell forward into a desperate takedown attempt, the Brazilian put him in a guillotine.

Rivera tapped out at 2:08 of the first round.

Make no mistake about it: this fight was won because of Lineker’s hands and chin and propensity for banging hard when given the opportunity.

At bantamweight, he may be finally living up to potential.