Tournaments are once again a trend in promotions like ONE, PFL, Bellator and Rizin. But ONE Championship bantamweight king Bibiano Fernandes isn’t interested in being part of one anymore.
“The Flash”, who competed in that format for over a decade in jiu-jitsu, made the transition to MMA in 2004. He won a pair of tournaments in Japan to conquer the DREAM featherweight and bantamweight belts in 2009 and 2011, respectively.
Years after most recent tournament, the 39-year-old veteran explains why he wouldn’t do it again.
“In my situation today, I just can’t,” Fernandes told MMA Fighting. “I have no interest in fighting in a grand prix. Unless it’s a really good GP and good money, then maybe I’d do it. But to fight just to fight, no, I won’t do it. I’d much rather defend my belt, or do a superfight.
“It’s just a lot of fights. You have to fight all the time. I know how to win a GP, but it’s just too much training – a whole other mindset. To win a tournament, you have to give everything you got, and I have a lot of things to take care of today. I have family, kids, things to take care of, so it’s a bit harder. Leave that for the kids to fight.”
Fernandes has been at the top of the division in ONE since 2013, competing in 12 championship bouts in a row. Last Saturday, the jiu-jitsu specialist defended his belt with a second-round rear-naked choke finish over Kevin Belingon.
Fernandes says he’s thankful for Belingon because “he helped me become a better fighter” by training to face him a fourth time in the ONE cage. He now plans to take a break and rest his body before coming back to the cage in 2020 — or sooner if ONE needs a big fight.
“Our body is like a car,” Fernandes said. “You have to change the oil, change tires and add fuel, or it breaks. The human body is the same thing. We have to slow down a bit and let our bodies rest, and then we can speed up again.”
Having defeated a long list of fighters under the ONE banner, Fernandes isn’t sure of who will be next for him. The bantamweight titleholder currently has his eyes on Daichi Takenaka, who recently finished UFC veteran Leandro Issa via TKO, and UFC veteran John Lineker, who defeated Muin Gafurov in his promotional debut last Friday.
“I think we have to wait and see what happens now,” Fernandes said. “ONE didn’t give Demetrious Johnson a shot at the (flyweight) title right away; they made him go through a GP first, so they will prepare (Lineker) to fight me like they did with DJ. I don’t think they’ll do a GP, but they will have their eyes on him.”