Lineker steps up to face Rivera at UFC 219

by
Jason Silva / USA TODAY Sports

Jimmie Rivera's spot on UFC 219 has been salvaged.

John Lineker has stepped in to face Rivera in an injured Dominick Cruz's stead at bantamweight on Dec. 30 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, the promotion confirmed Tuesday following reports from Adam Hill of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani.

Cruz recently pulled out of the matchup with a broken arm, prompting Rivera to call for a date with newly crowned champion TJ Dillashaw, who has his sights set on a clash of titleholders with flyweight king Demetrious Johnson.

Instead, Lineker will take the Octagon just two months after besting Marlon Vera on points at UFC Fight Night 119. The Brazilian has won all but one of six fights since moving up from flyweight over two years ago, the sole blemish is a lopsided decision he dropped to Dillashaw at UFC 207 in December.

The 28-year-old Rivera hasn't tasted defeat in 20 bouts spanning nine years, and boasts a 5-0 UFC record. He most recently took a unanimous decision over Thomas Almeida in July at UFC on FOX 25.

UFC 219 will feature a women's featherweight title bout between reigning champion Cris Cyborg and former bantamweight queen Holly Holm, as well as a clash of top lightweight contenders in Khabib Nurmagomedov and Edson Barboza.