For the first time in nearly six years, former ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes will make the walk to the cage as a challenger.
While he is driven by the need to win the upcoming trilogy bout in Tokyo, Japan, Fernandes is also motivated to recapture the prize he held for so long.
“I really want to get the belt back,” the 39-year-old states.
After he originally claimed the gold in 2013, “The Flash” was practically unstoppable. He had defeated everyone who challenged him, including Belingon once before.
“The Silencer” won via split decision in an extremely close battle at ONE: HEART OF THE LION in November 2018 and ended the Brazilian’s record-setting nine-bout World Title win streak.
Still, Fernandes believes the result of that match was not conclusive enough.
“That’s motivating me because when I watch the fight, it’s a close fight, but I beat him one time, and I [felt I] beat him the second time,” he says.
Fernandes is determined to prove he is the superior mixed martial artist when they meet for the third time at the historic Ryogoku Kokugikan on 31 March.
While he still finds it hard coming to terms with the defeat, the Brazilian managed to learn from his time shared in the cage with Belingon.
The Brazilian now feels there is no reason to fear the wushu stylist’s power, and that will give him the confidence he needs to close the distance.
“Losing was a good boost for me. Now, I know what to do next time,” he explains.
“His strength was supposed to be this power punch. He knocks everybody out, but he punched and ran with me because he didn’t want me to take him down.
“People say he has the crazy spin kick and knocks everybody out, [but] he didn’t knock me out.”
“The Flash” is clearly eager to put on a more dominant performance and leave no doubt that he is the bantamweight division’s true king.
More than anything, he wants a route to victory that will provide clarity so he can end their three-bout series with the upper hand.
“I want to show the true champion here. That’s my mentality,” he states.
“The way I want to win the fight, if I finish, is with great [Brazilian] Jiu-Jitsu. If I can knock him out, great. If I can win via decision, great. I want to win, that’s it.”
Fernandes wants his rival to come fully prepared to the biggest show in ONE Championship history.
The monumental ONE: A NEW ERA card has four World Title encounters, but if the Brazilian has it his way, their battle will be the one that stands out.