For someone who was in a fight that a lot of observers thought was lackluster due to an opponent who didn’t want to engage that much, Bibiano Fernandes was highly complimentary. But that’s his style: no regrets.
Fernandes (14-3) this past month won ONE FC’s interim bantamweight title with a five-round unanimous decision victory over Koetsu Okazaki (8-3-1) at ONE FC 9 in the Philippines.
But Fernandes said his opponent’s “sneaky” nature may have led to the way the bout played out over 25 minutes.
“It was a very good fight,” Fernandes told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio). “He tried to move around and come forward to punch, but I went in there and did my best. That’s why I do it, and he’s a pretty tough kid. I don’t know what happened. He’s very sneaky and very good, but it was a good fight.”
Fernandes now holds the promotion’s interim bantamweight title and awaits word on when he might fight current champ Soo Chul Kim, who has been sidelined with a shoulder injury.
But Fernandes said it doesn’t matter when that fight comes – his loyalty lies with ONE FC, which has become arguably the biggest player in Asian MMA.
“I have a six-fight deal with ONE FC, and I’m going to keep putting on good fights and we’ll see what happens for me,” he said. “I’m waiting to fight the champ at 135 and waiting for them to call me to say that’s the next fight. So we’ll see.”
Despite being from Brazil, Fernandes, who is ranked No. 7 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie.com MMA bantamweight rankings, has found himself with a big following in the Philippines, where he now has fought twice under the ONE FC banner.
Some of that may be due to his popularity in Asia while fighting for DREAM, where he won the featherweight tournament and that promotion’s title, then won its bantamweight title after dropping down when he lost the 145-pound belt.
Regardless, Fernandes loves the response he gets when he walks out, like the one that came at ONE FC 9.
“Fighting in the Philippines is very good – 20,000 people in the arena, and it’s crazy,” he said. “People go crazy for the fights, and it’s very loud.”
Considering ONE FC has held events now in Sinagapore, Indonesia and Malaysia, to go along with the two events in the Philippines, Fernandes said he’s also willing to fight wherever they ask him to go. But if they call him to return to the Philippines, all the better.
“If they say I have to go to Singapore, I’ll go there,” he said. “China or Korea? I’ll go there. The Philippines, I really like it there. It’s very warm, and I like to fight in the heat because my conditioning is good. But once they say to me I have to go wherever they want to do it, I’ll do it. I’m an employee and I’ll fight wherever they say. But for me, it’s crazy – I don’t believe the feeling fighting in the Philippines.”
Well in the past, Fernandes said, is the time he nearly became a UFC employee. About a year ago, word got out that Fernandes had signed with the UFC and would debut at UFC 149 against Roland Delorme.
But that fight soon was removed from the UFC’s website, and Fernandes later said he merely was negotiating with the UFC – but never signed a deal. Right now, he considers the move to go to ONE FC the right choice.
“I moved forward in my life – no looking back,” he said. “The past is the past. I made my decision and I moved forward. I know my talent. I enjoy the competition, and for me the fighting is only competition. The business part is very complicated. I’ve fought for a long time. I know I could fight for the UFC, and maybe even for the belt. But they have to make it fair. I know my value. Everything I do in my life, you win, I win, everyone moves forward. I’ll always do my best, but it has to be fair.”
For complete coverage of “ONE FC 9: Rise to Power,” stay tuned to the MMA Events section of the site.
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