Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes is ready to put his ONE Bantamweight World Title on the line in one of his most anticipated defenses of all time.
Before they enter the Circle at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, we break down how each man could earn the win in this classic striker-versus-grappler World Championship clash.
#1 Fernandes’ Endurance
Fernandes has been the key player in the bantamweight division since 2013, and in that time, he has shown incredible conditioning to go the five-round championship distance on six occasions – winning five of those contests and coming achingly close in the other.
Lineker has only done five rounds once, and though he won it by split decision, he had definitely faded in his output by the time the final bell sounded.
Dragging his countryman into the later stages of the contest will give “The Flash” the chance to see how the challenger handles the pace and whether his power will hold up when he is fatigued.
The reigning king will know all about “Hands of Stone’s” fierce punching power, and despite claiming he is not fazed by it, it still makes sense to avoid it wherever possible.
So, Fernandes should not be too eager to charge in and get popped with Lineker’s hard counters. Instead, he can probe from the outside, keep moving laterally, and then dart in and out to score with punches, while searching for routes into takedowns.
Rushing in could meet walking onto a concussive fist. But with 25 minutes to play with, “The Flash” can treat it as a marathon, not a sprint.
#2 Lineker Breaking Down The Body
One of Lineker’s favorite pastimes is using his fists to tenderize his opponents’ internal organs, and that will be a key strategy for him in “The Lion City.”
With “The Flash” likely to play the long game, “Hands of Stone” can try to level the playing field by battering the AMC Pankration athlete’s midsection to deplete his gas tank.
Lineker doesn’t need to constantly lunge in for five rounds. The opportunities will come without him needing to overcommit and potentially offer up chances for his foe take ahold of him.
By going after Fernandes’ body, he can try to slow the 41-year-old down to take the zip out of his takedown attempts.
On top of that, Lineker’s punishing body shots often force his rivals to drop their guards, leaving him room to throw his fists at their heads to try to score a finish.
#3 Fernandes’ Slick Back Takes
While he doesn’t want to charge forward recklessly to get into close quarters with Lineker, Fernandes will inevitably need to take his man down to give himself the best chance of claiming victory.
He can get in on a double-leg behind his heavy right hand, and if it fails, he still has the chance to run Lineker to the Circle Wall to control him there.
This gives the longstanding World Champion multiple options. If he can get “Hands of Stone” down, he can employ his smothering top game and hunt for ground-and-pound and submissions.
However, if Lineker manages to keep him upright or scramble from a sprawl, it doesn’t mean he is out of the woods. Fernandes’ back takes are lightning-fast and can come from anywhere, so there’s always the threat of him attaching himself to the American Top Team product like a backpack.
“The Flash” can shrug his way there from the clinch, transition from a dominant position, or even capitalize on the challenger’s attempts to get back up. Once Fernandes is on the back, he’s clinical in searching for the neck and cinching up his rear-naked choke.
#4 Lineker Switching Up Forward Pressure And Counters
Lineker has the chin and power to walk down any opponent, but against a seasoned veteran like Fernandes, he will have to mix up his ways of engaging.
Simply treading forward can work, and it only takes one of his clubs to finish a fight. But he can keep “The Flash” guessing by taking his foot off the gas a little and allowing his fellow Brazilian to step in.
When his rivals step in, they can expect to be met with hard hooks to the head and body. Also, as Troy “Pretty Boy” Worthen found out, a step too close at the wrong time could also mean walking into a thunderous straight right.
With both men so tough and durable – Lineker hasn’t been stopped in 10 years and Fernandes 16 years – it seems likely that it could be a long shift. By not simply moving in one direction, he will stop “The Flash” from getting an easy read on him.
If Lineker can swing bombs going forward and tag his foe while moving backward, it will give him extra chances to find the one shot that he needs to add another KO and a World Title to his resume.