Demetrious Johnson is looking to make history in Kansas City, tying Anderson Silva's record for most title defenses in UFC history, and one training partner guarantees he’s ready for Wilson Reis’ best weapon Saturday night.
A decorate grappler, Reis earned a shot at the UFC flyweight champion after winning three straight. Reis takes on Johnson in the main event of UFC on FOX 24, and predicted a dominating submission victory.
“Mighty Mouse” was never finished in 10 years as professional MMA fighter, and his training partner Bibiano Fernandes, a multiple-time jiu-jitsu champion and current bantamweight kingpin at ONE Championship, says Johnson is ready for anything Reis brings on the ground.
"People say this is going to be a great fight because Wilson has a great jiu-jitsu, but I have a high-level jiu-jitsu and I know what I’m talking about,” Fernandes told MMA Fighting. "If I haven’t showed him this tricks on the ground, maybe it would be a tough fight, I won’t lie to you. But he understands things. It will be a good fight, but this kid (Johnson) is tough, and I know how Wilson fights.”
Fernandes says it’s nearly impossible to submit Johnson today, but that wasn’t the case when they started training together five years ago. Johnson had just lost to Dominick Cruz, and Fernandes was getting ready to make his debut in ONE FC.
"When I started training with Demetrious, I’ll be honest with you, I submitted him all the time,” Fernandes said. "You can ask him that, there are interviews on YouTube where he says that. But his evolution was insane. We are training together for years, and now this kid is incredibly tough on the ground. It’s hard to submit him now. I saw his evolution since our first training together. His ground game is amazing. He has an incredible grappling game for MMA."
Johnson last defended the UFC belt with a decision win over Tim Elliott, but the challenger came close to shocking the MMA world with a submission in the opening round.
"I wasn’t surprised because MMA is an interesting sport,” Fernandes said. "It’s hard to stay 100 percent in every aspect of the game. I have to be alert all the time. He was caught in that choke, but that showed how hard it is to tap him. He won’t tap. He’ll go until the end.”
In 2006, before Johnson even made their professional MMA debut, Fernandes was already one of the best grapplers in the world. At that year’s IBJJF Pan American Championship, Fernandes faced Reis in the featherweight black belt semifinal, and won by submission.
"I like Wilson,” said Fernandes, who won the gold medal that day. "I remember pulling guard, Wilson trying to pass and putting pressure, but I came back and caught him with an armbar. But Wilson is good, man. He’s tough."