‘I Still Can’t Believe Everything That’s Happening’ – Fabricio Andrade’s Inspiring Path From Harsh Poverty To MMA Stardom
For the second time in four months, Fabricio Andrade will have the opportunity to capture the ONE Bantamweight World Title and defeat a bitter rival along the way.
The pair of Brazilian knockout artists first met in October 2022 at ONE on Prime Video 3, but that fight ended in a no contest after Andrade landed an inadvertent low blow, shattering Lineker’s protective cup.
The 25-year-old phenom will now have his shot at redemption – and the vacant World Title – live in U.S. primetime from the legendary Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.
However, Andrade’s journey to this golden opportunity was far from easy. Before his main event showdown, learn how he overcame adversity and became a fast-rising star in the world’s largest martial arts organization.
‘My Family And I Were Very Poor’
The youngest of three children, “Wonder Boy” comes from humble beginnings in Fortaleza, Brazil, and was forced by poverty to learn the meaning of struggle from an early age.
He told ONEFC.com:
“It was always very difficult for me to talk about my childhood. My family and I were very poor. I went through many difficulties when I lived in Brazil and later when I decided to take the risk of living abroad.”
That hardscrabble upbringing would teach Andrade an enduring resilience, something he leans on today as a world-class mixed martial artist.
Looking back, he also recognizes how difficult it must have been for his parents to feed three hungry mouths, with his father selling watches at the market and his mother working as a cook once the children were older.
“There was a lot spent on food and clothing, but they worked hard to try to put food on the table every day and make us grow well.”
Finding His Calling
Despite the gregarious and boisterous personality he brings to the Circle today, the Brazilian wasn’t always so friendly.
Quite the opposite, in fact. But while Andrade was an introverted child, he was never one to back down from a confrontation.
“I wasn’t very outgoing, I was more quiet. Sometimes it happened that someone provoked me, but I found a way to return the provocation or defend myself. I always tried to defend myself. I never took s*** home, and I fought when I needed to fight.”
Given his natural inclination for combat, the youngster eventually sought out martial arts in order to defend himself in one of Fortaleza’s toughest neighborhoods.
Like countless other Brazilian kids, he had dreamed of playing soccer. But after his first exposure to Muay Thai, Andrade quickly realized that he belonged in the ring – and that he actually wanted the attention it would bring.
“I started training because I wanted to fight in the street. A friend took me to train Muay Thai, and I enjoyed it. One day, I went to see him fight, and that was so cool for me. He was in the ring fighting, and everyone was looking at him. He was the center of attention, and that enchanted me.
“I gave up soccer the next day and started to dedicate myself only to fighting. From that day, I felt something different, I knew this was what I had to do. I started to get good at it, everyone praised me, and it motivated me every day.”
More Hardship Overseas
Showing enormous potential in both Muay Thai and MMA, the rising star looked for opportunities outside of his native Brazil.
And while his transition to the Asian competition scene would ultimately pay off and lead him to global fame in ONE Championship, relocating to the other side of the world took its toll on the young Andrade.
“One of the worst was when I left my family in Brazil to live in China. I didn’t speak English, and I didn’t know anyone – just a manager who said he would get me a fight. I communicated through a translator, and it was very difficult. I lived at the gym with a lot of Chinese people, and I didn’t have friends or anyone to talk to.”
Feeling alone in a foreign country and struggling to make ends meet, “Wonder Boy” admits that this was one of the most challenging times of his life.
Making it even more difficult, he didn’t want to put any of the burden on his mother or father:
“I remember many times I regretted going to China. I would go to the bathroom and cry for hours because I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have money and neither did my family, so I didn’t want to ask for their help because I didn’t want to make them worried.”
Like A Dream Come True
Fortunately, Andrade persevered through those tough times and landed with ONE Championship in 2020 to continue his burgeoning MMA career while training out of Phuket, Thailand.
Utilizing his extensive striking background and his ever-improving all-around game, the Tiger Muay Thai representative quickly reeled off five straight dominant victories in the organization before battling Lineker for the vacant bantamweight throne last year.
For the poor kid from the streets of Fortaleza, his situation now seems surreal:
“Every day I wake up, and I still can’t believe everything that’s happening in my life and how far I’ve come. But what excites me the most is that I always knew I would make it, even with all the difficulties.”
Through it all, Andrade has powered himself past life’s many challenges with an unwavering determination and self-belief.
And just days before the biggest moment of his professional journey, he knows all the adversity and hard work eventually molded him into the athlete and person he is today.
“If you believe in your heart, do what has to be done, because at some point things will work out. We plant today to harvest tomorrow.”