Interview with ONE Bantamweigh champ Bibiano Fernandes: "I love the pressure and am counting down the days"
July 18 is just days away and ONE Championship (ONE) will be hosting a world-class fight event in Yangon, Myanmar for the first time! As you may already know, the main event will be the Bantamweight World Championship title fight and we are excited to see the battle between Bibiano “Flash” Fernandes and Toni “Dynamite” Tauru.
The ONE bantamweight champion Bibiano Fernandes has been untouchable in the division for a long time and has been the only champion in the talent stacked division of the company. In a Sportskeeda exclusive, Bibiano spoke about the upcoming fight and a lot more, heading into the historic night this weekend. Below is the transcript of my chat with the ONE Bantamweight champion Bibiano Fernandes:
Ratish Menon: Your journey into the Mixed Martial Arts world is as fascinating as your journey in the MMA world. Coming from abject poverty, do you think that helped in you becoming a champion
Bibiano Fernandes: Yes for sure. It taught me to value the little things. And that I want more for my life and that I have to work hard for it.
RM: In your martial arts journey, you have trained in various countries, while competing exclusively in Asia. Is there any specific reason for that?
BF: I have competed it other countries before, but once I became well known was when I signed with Dream and I've just been in Asia since then. When Asia’s largest MMA promotion, ONE Championship, offered me a chance to fight and be the champion, I knew it was the chance to prove to the world how good I am as a MMA fighter.
RM: Starting off in Brazil, you have trained at various training places. Do you still train exclusively with AMC Pankration with Matt Hume? How has the experience been training with him, someone who is so well-rounded and has a complete system going for MMA training?
BF: Matt is a great coach, the best in MMA. I'm blessed to work with him and he's definitely helped me take my skills to the next level. I train at AMC for about a month before my fights and the rest of the year I train at different local gyms in Canada.
RM: As a traditional martial artist, you had your start in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and have achieved tremendous success in it. Do you still have the desire to compete in submission special tournaments or you want to solely focus on MMA?
BF: Today my focus is MMA but when I retire from MMA, I might go back to Jiu Jitsu, who knows. I'd love to share my knowledge with others who love the sport as well.
RM: Asia is a hotbed for world class MMA fighters in the lower weight classes. From your experiences in the martial arts world in Asia, how would you compare the talent in Asia and overseas?
BF: There are a lot of great athletes there. Good skills and they take it very seriously. They definitely are comparable to some of North America’s top fighters.
RM: Your opponent at ONE: Kingdom of Champions, Toni Tauru, is a successful submission artist himself. Where do you think the fight is going to be contested mostly and how has your camp been for this fight?
BF: Well I've been training for everything. He's good at finishing but I'm too. I have my plan. I'll tell you after the fight.
RM: For the longest time, the superfight for ONE fans has been between yourself and dominant lightweight champion Shinya Aoki. You have expressed desire in a catchweight bout at 140 lbs. What do you think of his run as a champion and the potential superfight.
BF: I think it would be great! He's one of Asia’s greatest fighters. I'll leave it in ONE championship's hands.
RM: It is a historic night for ONE as they are holding the first fight card in Myanmar on July 18, breaking new ground with this card. Does that add more pressure on you as the champion fighting in the main-event? How has the response been during your time in the country preparing for the fight.
BF: I love pressure and it's an honour to fight there. I’m counting down the days. I haven't been in the country yet so I'm not too sure (laughs)
RM: In closing, MMA fans in India are keenly awaiting the day when ONE Championship does an event here. Do you have any message for the Indian fans and if you have been to India, any memories that stand out?
BF: I have great friends from India and I would love to be there one day. I have never been but I know about the culture as there are many people from India living in my area. And I love Indian food haha.