By: Nick Portella
What’s good fight fans? Today I had the chance to sit down with ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes. Fernandes recently defended his title on August 5, 2017, at ONE: Kings & Conquerors in Macao, China. Let’s take a seat with one of the greatest bantamweights to ever compete and learn a little more about him.
Nick: What does it mean (to you) to be a fighter?
Bibiano: For me, this sport is everything. When I was younger, growing up in Brazil was hard. I could have gone a different path. A lot of the youth in Brazil are exposed to the hardships of life, but then I discovered jiu-jitsu and it changed my life. I spent a lot of time in the gym. I trained there, I slept there, I had nowhere else to go. Today, I’m successful because of those experiences. I will forever be a fighter. It is who I am. No matter what comes in life, I will always fight on, for my family, for my friends, and for myself
Nick: What do you think is your best attribute as a fighter?
Bibiano: I think the best attribute I have as a fighter is my perseverance and will to win. I have experienced so much in my life. There were times that I was close to giving up, but I pushed through and I survived. Broken nose, broken arm, broken rib, whatever it is, I grit my teeth and push through. That is why I am still champion today. I also constantly improve my skills. Every day is a learning experience. Every day there is an opportunity to grow and improve as a martial artist.
Nick: August 5, 2017, at ONE: Kings & Conquerors you faced a tough opponent in Andrew Leone. Do you think your opponent was caught off guard early due to your aggressive approach to the fight from the opening bell?
Bibiano: I have worked a lot on my stand up and it is one of the aspects of my game that make me successful. This is a very intricate sport. You can’t just focus on the grappling aspect. It can’t just be jiu-jitsu. So enhancing my striking was really important for me. This gave me the confidence to rush [Andrew] Leone and try to force the action.
Nick: At one point you chased your opponent across the cage and got him in the clinch. You landed a hard knee to his abdomen which made him slump over to the canvas. Did you know at that point that the finish would be soon to follow?
Bibiano: I knew the knee hurt him so from there I could sense the finish. I saw the opening and grabbed the opportunity. It is very hard to defend from a choke after you get the wind sucked out of you from a knee to the body. Leone is a tough guy, but no one could recover from that.
Nick: You had an amazing transition to secure the rear naked choke which caused your opponent to tap. How much of your training do you focus on jiu-jitsu and making transitions as smooth as possible?
Bibiano: Jiu-jitsu is part of my everyday life. It is the martial art that I practice firstly and I really enjoy it, whether I am competing or not. You can say, jiu-jitsu saved my life. It really is true. Without jiu-jitsu, I won’t be where I am today.
Nick: This was your seventh title defense and your thirteenth win in a row. Who would you like to get in the cage with next?
Bibiano: Whoever they put in front of me, I am willing to fight. I take on all challengers. I am happy with my career. I am happy with ONE Championship. I feel great. I feel like I am the best in the world. I can fight anyone, anytime. Just bring it.
Nick: Can we expect to see you fight again in 2017?
Bibiano: It is up to ONE Championship, I leave the matchmaking to the promoters. My job is to go in there and perform. If I get another fight in 2017, then I will gladly accept. I am happy inside of the cage.
Bibiano would like to thank everyone who has supported him. Sponsors, family, friends, and especially One Championship.
I enjoyed speaking with the champ today. He is as humble as he is great. I hope to see him in the cage one more time this year as I am sure his fans do as well. Signing off for TheMMATakeOver.com this is Nick Portella. @NickPortellaMMA