Martin Nguyen will attempt to make history at ONE Championship, but Bibiano Fernandes expects his opponent to have a hard time leading up to their clash.
Nguyen is a two-division champion in ONE Championship, holding the featherweight and lightweight titles, and will attempt to capture another belt when he challenges the bantamweight king in the main event of ONE Championship: Iron Will on March 24 in Thailand.
Speaking with ONE’s official website, Nguyen said he feels “much healthier, I feel much faster, and I feel great at this weight” ahed of the fight, calling the bantamweight division his “natural walk-around weight.”
Fernandes isn’t that sure, though.
The Brazilian veteran, who has also competed at featherweight in the past, told MMA Fighting on Wednesday that there’s a risk Nguyen might miss weight for the title fight. Nguyen fought for the last time in November, when he took the lightweight belt from Eduard Folayang.
“I think he will (have trouble) because it’s different there,” Fernandes said. “It’s complicated. I think there’s a risk he doesn’t make weight.”
ONE Championship has adopted a new weigh-in program in Dec. 2015 after the death of one of its fighters, Yang Jian Bing, and Fernandes believes Nguyen is worried about his weight cut since a fighter can’t dehydrate to make weight in ONE Championship anymore.
“I don’t have problems making weight,” Fernandes said. “I’m already on weight, and I’m strong, explosive, my mind is sharp. I’m sure that right now he’s on a diet, running, killing himself to make weight, not eating well. I’m cool here. I know what I have to do, and I know he’s dehydrating himself.
“I know he might even make weight if he dehydrates. I can cut down to flyweight if I want, but I know he can’t do that if he doesn’t dehydrate. Maybe he does, but he will be worn out. This is a psychological game now. I think he makes weight if he dehydrates, but it would be tougher for him.”
Fernandes vs. Nguyen headlines ONE Championship: Iron Will at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand, on March 24. Fernandes is looking to score his 14th straight victory, while Nguyen attempts to improve to 8-1 under the promotion’s banner and become the first three-division titleholder.