Asian mixed martial arts giant ONE FC showcases Brazilian master Bibiano Fernandes in a bantamweight interim championship battle on Friday, May 31.
ONE FC9 takes place in Manila, Philippines and pits Fernandes (13-3) against Japan’s Koetsu Okazaki (8-2-1) for the ONE FC interim bantamweight title. The event is called “Rise to Power” and will be held at Mall of Asia Arena. The fight card will be televised on www.Livesport.tv and can be seen live or recorded.
The Asian-based MMA organization has been very busy with fight cards taking place almost every month. More than a few of its fighters have come from UFC and other American MMA organizations. Plus, it has all of Asia to search and pluck talented MMA prizefighters.
Fighting Fernandes will be Japan’s Okazaki, a 33-year-old veteran who knows a thing or two about Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Beating Bibiano would be a great victory for the Japanese MMA fighter and would raise his prominence in the fight world.
Brazil’s Fernandes has been unbeatable during the last three years and knows a win could lead him to more lucrative and sensational match ups in the always talented bantamweight division. MMA experts consider the fighter known as “Bibiano” to be among the world’s best in the 135-pound weight division. His knowledge of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu has been his strength.
“I was just born to be in Jiu-jitsu,” Fernandes says, adding that when he first began training in jiu-jitsu academies he was a quick learner and able to defeat other older and stronger students. It was a natural talent.
Stamina and artistry are other strengths Fernandes possesses as exemplified by his double victories on the same night. On Dec. 31, 2011, Fernandes defeated Rodolfo Diniz by decision and knocked out Antonio Banuelos in the first round.
You might think they were easy victories judging by the results.
“All fights are very difficult,” said Fernandes, on the telephone. “Each fight that I have had has been hard.”
Fernandes feels his difficult upbringing in the Amazon jungle where he was placed after losing his mother helped sculpture his survival skills. And when he returned to the bigger towns that need to survive aided his ability to grasp the complex fighting skills of jiu-jitsu quickly and with artistry.
“Since 16 I have had the talent for jiu-jitsu,” says Fernandes, who has captured six Brazilian Jiu-jitsu world championships.
If not for the rise of MMA as a popular and lucrative sport, Fernandes might still be participating solely in jiu-jitsu tournaments instead of in huge arenas around the world.
“In 2001 my friends said try MMA. My friend said try, try and I tried, and I’m here now,” Fernandes said.
Still, despite success in MMA, the Brazilian grappler is obsessed with perfecting his fighting skills. Perhaps it comes from knowing that jiu-jitsu helped him escape poverty and loneliness.
“You have to fight for a living, for life, but for me I fought because I like to challenge myself,” said Fernandes, who lives in Vancouver, Washington. “For me, I like jiu-jitsu. I really like jiu-jitsu because I can better myself.”
Fernandes feels right at home whether in the Amazon jungle or the Asian metropolis of Manila.
“It’s another culture and I love fighting there,” Fernandes says.
Other fights to watch
ONE FC featherweight champion Honorio “The Rock” Banario (8-1) of the Philippines defends the title against Japan’s Koji Oishi (23-9-10). This is Banario’s first title defense. The Filipino champion who is known for his spectacular kicks has never had a fight result in a decision. Will the streak continue?
In another Japan versus Philippines matchup, Masakatsu Ueda (17-2) tangles with Kevin Belingon (11-2) in a bantamweight skirmish. It’s the final of the Grand Prix tournament that began with eight fighters earlier in the year. Ueda’s last win to reach the final was a submission of former UFC champion Jens Pulver. Belingon defeated Thanh Vu by knockout.
Former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia (31-8) fights Tony Johnson (6-1) in a heavyweight battle between Americans. The two-time heavyweight champion Sylvia remains one of the hardest punchers in MMA. Johnson is a former King of the Cage heavyweight champion known primarily for his speed and power. His only loss took place three years ago.
Japan’s Felipe Enomoto (6-5) tangles with U.S. undefeated fighter Lowen Tynanes (4-0) in a lightweight clash. Tynanes is currently the King of the Cage middleweight champion and Enomoto is a European champion.