Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes has been the most dominant force in ONE Championship’s bantamweight division since 2013 – winning 11 World Title fights – but there are plenty of new contenders with their eyes on his gold.
Stephen “The Sniper” Loman is one of them, and the #3-ranked Filipino will be closely watching the bantamweight king’s next defense against John “Hands of Stone” Lineker at ONE: BAD BLOOD this Friday, 11 February.
Fernandes will be in for a tough night against his Brazilian compatriot at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, but Loman expects the BJJ legend to be well-prepared for this mixed martial arts showdown.
“For sure, Bibiano knows that Lineker packs power in those punches,” he says.
“I expect him to come up with a game plan to take the match to the ground. I think there’s a huge possibility that he can submit Lineker.”
“The Sniper” from Team Lakay has already seen Fernandes defeat his stablemate Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon in three of their four World Title encounters – submitting him twice – so he knows the titleholder is plenty dangerous on the ground.
However, Lineker’s power is a great equalizer. He’s scored 16 knockouts in his career and is coming off back-to-back finishes in ONE Championship, including a sensational KO of Belingon.
With that in mind, Loman won’t write off the #1 contender’s chances of claiming the belt.
“The key for Lineker is finding his distance and striking at the right time,” the Filipino says.
“If he can find his range and pick his shots from a distance, there’s also a chance that he knocks out Bibiano. He’s a veteran in the game as well. I guess we’ll see what gives.”
Still, with no stoppage defeats since 2006, Fernandes has repeatedly shown he can stand up to the biggest hitters on the planet.
Given that durability and a well-rounded MMA arsenal, Loman believes the AMC Pankration man will leave “The Lion City” with the belt around his waist.
“If I have to pick between them, I’ll stick with Bibiano. I think his grappling will be superior,” he says.
“We saw in his past fights that he has a complete skill set. He can strike, and we all know how good he is at jiu-jitsu.
“If Bibiano gets his rhythm early in the match, he’ll submit Lineker.”
Of course, Loman is also becoming a major player in the ONE Bantamweight World Title picture.
Following his stunning debut win over Yusup “Maestro” Saadulaev, he’s in a prime position to attack the division’s elite, so however Friday’s main event pans out, he’ll be gunning for the winner in the near future.