The 29-year-old from Solo, Indonesia will return to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for his second bout in The Home Of Martial Arts against Gurdarshan “Saint Lion” Mangat.
The best pound-for-pound Indian mixed martial artist has received a lot of hype since his arrival on the global stage, but Fernandes can hijack that and become and an instant contender with a win at the Axiata Arena on 12 July.
The Han Academy and Indogym representative showed flashes of his potential in his ONE debut in December, but now he expects to be at his best and recapture the form that made him the top bantamweight on his domestic scene.
Ahead of his return to the Circle, Fernandes breaks down how he plans to earn his eighth career win and, if all goes well, his seventh finish.
ONE Championship: How excited are you to return to ONE on the main card in KL?
Abro Fernandes: I am totally excited! This time, I am more prepared since I have a longer time to train. After my bout at the end of last year, I directly went into practice sessions with Coach Yohan [Mulia Legowo].
ONE: What do you think about your opponent this time?
AF: I have seen and studied the videos of Gurdarshan’s previous bouts. I realized that he is very skilled and strong in both his ground and stand-up game.
Essentially, [the bout] will depend on whoever is more prepared and who has the perfect strategy. I think that I am prepared.
ONE: What is your game plan?
AF: I will strike more and prepare myself for a three-round duel.
It is quite simple for me. Since I am going into a three-round battle, I will have to win all three rounds. I have prepared myself to give all I’ve got for three rounds.
In this sense, I am preparing for the worst possibility, although I am definitely also aiming for an early finish. I prepare for everything, every possibility, which means I have increased the intensity of my physical and technical training.
ONE: What advantages do you have against Mangat?
AF: My advantage is simply about calmness and composure. I am enjoying my fights – I am not rushing anything when I step into the cage.
That is crucial in a bout so we can adjust our rhythm, increase the tempo, and read [our opponent] better.
If we go all-out in the first round, like I did the last time, the result would be a loss. I lost my stamina in the middle of the bout. If we have great stamina, it would be okay to go all out, but if we don’t, it would be hard [to maintain pressure].
ONE: What aspects of your training have you focused on the most for this match-up?
AF: Now, I am more focused on my ground game. I want to improve more and fix my mistakes from my previous bouts.
ONE: Why do you think fans should be excited about your match in Malaysia?
AF: If you have followed me from my days competing at local competitions, you would know my style. I would like to bring that particular style with me – the “Black Komodo” style – to ONE Championship.
I will fight like a Komodo dragon – very fast and agile on the ground.
ONE: What would a win against such a highly-regarded athlete do for your career?
AF: I do not think that I can choose [who I want to face] at this point. Whoever is set by the matchmaker, I will go for it.
My training has prepared me to face anyone. Everyone has their advantages and weaknesses. We learn from each other, so it depends on what kind of strategy and skills that we have developed for a bout.