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John Lineker ‘ready’ for Bibiano Fernandes after KO victory: ‘There’s no one else left for me to fight except the champion’

John Lineker stopped former ONE champion Kevin Belingon in the second round in Singapore.
ONE Championship

John Lineker stopped Kevin Belingon at ONE Championship: Inside the Matrix 3, an event that took place Oct. 30 in Singapore and aired Friday, and hopes to have secured a shot at bantamweight champion Bibiano Fernandes next.

A longtime UFC veteran, “Hands of Stone” was paired up with the former champion after defeating Muin Gafurov in his promotion debut in Oct. 2019, becoming the first to knock out Belingon in a professional MMA bout with heavy shots to the body and an uppercut.

“I always train really hard to get the knockout and it would be no different this time,” Lineker said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “I already expected a knockout because we’re both strikers, he’s also a tough athlete, but thank God I was the one that got the victory.”

Belingon was coming off three consecutive title bouts with ONE king “The Flash” Fernandes, a run that left him without the crown. Lineker, now up 2-0 under the promotion’s banner, believes he should be next against his fellow Brazilian after calling Fernandes out in his post-fight interview.

“I believe that my next fight will be for the belt,” said Lineker, who has yet to discuss his next move with the company. “I have a good name (in the sport) and I showed in the fight that I’m ready to fight for the title against Bibiano.

“That’s what I expect now. I beat the No. 1 in the rankings and there’s no one else left for me to fight except the champion.”

Lineker relied on his heavy hands to secure the majority of his MMA wins, knocking out 14 opponents in 32 professional victories. Fernandes is also a finisher, but uses his high-level jiu-jitsu to score most of his wins. “The Flash” went 12-1 so far under the ONE banner with half of those wins coming before the final bell.

“I’d train my jiu-jitsu, work on my takedown defense, and go for the knockout,” Lineker said of a potential clash with the champion. “I do that in all of my fights, so… It would obviously be a very different game because one is a striker and the other would want the takedown, but I believe he would be forced to stand with me if I have a good takedown defense, and then I’d go for the knockout.”

“Hands of Stone” came close to challenging for a UFC belt in two different divisions in the past, but multiple weight misses stopped him from challenging then-flyweight king Demetrious Johnson, and a decision defeat to T.J. Dillashaw put an end to his championship dreams at bantamweight.

Lineker believes that a potential victory over a long-reigning star like Bibiano Fernandes would feel like a huge deal even if it the belt doesn’t read “UFC.”

“It would be wonderful for me, it would be another achievement in my life,” Lineker said. “ONE is a great promotion. Winning the ONE belt, I would definitely consider myself a world champion. It would be gratifying, for sure. Becoming the ONE Championship champion would be wonderful for me.”

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