Bibiano Fernandes reigned in Asia for eight years, sitting at the top of the bantamweight division in ONE Championship with an impressive run of 10 straight wins, but that came to an end in November, after Kevin Belingon took the title with a controversial split decision.
Five months later, “The Flash” and “The Silencer” will meet again to settle the score at ONE’s first trip to Tokyo, Japan, on Sunday.
The Brazilian veteran had only lost one of his previous 22 bouts going into November’s rematch with Belingon, and feels that he should have had his hand raised in the end at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore.
”I did everything I could,” Fernandes told MMA Fighting. “I fought bravely, pushed the pace, tried to finish him many different ways. I did what I was prepared to do to win that fight, but it wasn’t what the judges saw. I don’t know if what he saw wasn’t enough, but I tried really hard to win that fight. And when it was over, they gave (Belingon) the win.
”I analyzed the fight the following day, I was sad the next day, and then I said ‘brother, there’s more to life than that.’ I decided to focus, train hard and prepare for my next step.”
The first time they fought, Fernandes submitted Belingon in China in 2016. Two years later, Belingon won a decision in Singapore. Now, “The Flash” feels more comfortable fighting where he sees a level playing field.
”I was undefeated for a long time, but, I don’t know, I’d rather not think about the judges,” Fernandes said. “They harmed me last time. I was harmed, but I respect their decision. I respect it, but when I watch the fight I know I did more than Kevin to win.”
Fernandes has re-watched the second fight “more than 20 times”. Every time he watches the tape, the Brazilian always thinks he’s done enough to come out victorious in the end, but thinks judges were influenced by the crowd that night.
”There would be no pressure if we analyzed the fight now, we would react completely different if we had thousands of people screaming in our ears,” Fernandes said. “We would have a completely different reaction to the fight.
”The fight was judged for 25 minutes, and what did the judges see? They saw moments of the fight. I locked an armbar and (Belingon) escaped, and thousands of Filipinos went crazy. What did the judges see? They see that moment, but not me almost finishing him, but him escaping. I did my part to win, but they were under pressure.”
To avoid going the distance again and making sure the belt comes back to Canada with him, Fernandes vows to stop “The Silencer” in Japan.
”The best gameplan for this fight is to fight with patience,” Fernandes said. “I was too anxious. Without spoiling my strategy, I’m ready wherever the fight goes. I’m ready, focused. I trained really hard, brother.”
”I have many options to win the fight, many paths I can go,” he continued. “But the problem is if he’s going there just to defend himself and run from the fight, that makes it more difficult. If he’s jut trying to survive and then try to score points in the end. Okay, that was his strategy, but I’m here to fight. He doesn’t have that mindset.”