“The Flash” is still waiting to hear back from ONE after publicly complaining about lack of fights, saying he’s down to defending his throne against John Lineker as soon as possible. Wondering if ONE isn’t interested in booking that matchup, Fernandes offers alternatives, saying he’s “definitely interested in fighting” the champions in the UFC and Bellator, respectively, on U.S. soil.
“ONE Championship against Bellator, ONE Championship against the UFC,” Fernandes told MMA Fighting. “That would be good, for sure. I’d break both of them, man. I’d break both champions. Right now, at this exact moment, I can defeat both of these guys.”
Sterling (20-3) captured the UFC belt in March after then-champion Petr Yan was disqualified for landing an illegal knee. “Funk Master” has won six in a row since 2018, including victories over the likes of Cory Sandhagen, Pedro Munhoz and Jimmie Rivera, and is scheduled to rematch Yan on Oct. 30.
Pettis (21-5) left the UFC after defeating Tyson Nam in September 2019 and became Bellator’s champion with a decision over Juan Archuleta, improving to 3-0 under the company banner after wins against Alfred Khashakyan and Ricky Bandejas.
Fernandes, a jiu-jitsu specialist, holds wins over the only two men to beat him over his past 25 bouts since dating back to 2008. Fernandes hasn’t competed since scoring a pair of wins over Kevin Belingon in 2019.
“I wouldn’t change my strategy to fight these guys,” Fernandes said. “Both have good jiu-jitsu on the ground, [Sterling] has good conditioning, and [to beat] the Bellator [champion] I would do my game, do what I do well. Fight well, strike well, take him down well, stand and bang. I have good game to fight these guys. I trust myself, my striking and my jiu-jitsu. I have what it takes to submit or KO one of them.”
It’s unclear why Fernandes hasn’t been scheduled to compete since 2019, but the 41-year-old Brazilian hopes to get a chance to pursue win No. 25 of his MMA career inside the ONE Championship cage – or in a cross-promotion clash.
“I would really like to fight the champions, but right now, I’m in a situation that… I wouldn’t call it a bit difficult,” Fernandes said. “But I’m in a situation where I don’t know what will happen with my future, so I have to start looking at other things because I don’t know for how long I’ll continue fighting.”