ONE bantamweight kingpin Bibiano Fernandes won’t rule out going back to featherweight, but has one condition.
A former 135-pound and 145-pound champion in DREAM, “The Flash” defended the ONE Championship gold for the sixth time Saturday in Macao, China, submitting Andrew Leone in 107 seconds, and explains what needs to happen for him to move back up in his next fight.
“I don’t know. It depends,” Fernandes told MMA Fighting. “If it’s for the same money I’m making today, absolutely not. Just for the challenge, to fight the champion to test myself, I’m not sure I want that. I know I’m good. I can fight anyone, man. It’s on them. If they want me to move up in weight I can do it, it depends on what they have for me. I can fight anyone.”
The 37-year-old bantamweight is taking some time off to rest and enjoy family time after a long camp, but plans on coming back to the cage later this year in an attempt of improving to a 10-0 run under the ONE Championship banner.
As for who’s next in line for the 135-pound gold, “The Flash” believes some fights need to happen for someone to earn a shot at the title.
“I think they will wait for someone to show up,” Fernandes said. “Someone will show up eventually. I’ve cleaned out the division in Asia, so I don’t know what will happen, so I don’t know what they want to do next. We’ll see.”
Fernandes scored his fastest win since 2012 against Leone, and explains the changes in his camp led to such a quick finish.
“I did a different conditioning training this time,” he said. “I focused more on cardio in my previous camps, but this time we focused on explosive strength, so I was stronger, ready to finish. I always fight to submit fast, in the first round.”
Fernandes hurt Leone with heavy shots on the ground and asked the referee to stop the bout. With the referee not convinced it was enough to award him a TKO victory, the Brazilian changed his strategy and locked in a rear-naked choke to force the tap.
“We never know what’s going to happen in a fight, but when the fight starts you see openings,” he said. “His lead leg was right in front of mine. It wasn’t my strategy to take him down, but he didn’t take that leg away. When I threw a couple of punches he clinched, so I put some pressure and the knee connected. When we went to the ground, I just used my jiu-jitsu.”