Bibiano Fernandes is back to full fitness and ready to return for his ninth World Title defence in ONE Championship.
“The Flash” will look to retain his ONE Bantamweight World Title once again when he takes on ONE Interim Bantamweight Champion Kevin Belingon at ONE: HEART OF THE LION in Singapore on 9 November.
The Brazilian veteran says he is excited to face a new and improved version of Belingon, who he defeated in a title defence earlier in his career.
“Every match excites me. He has the power punch, he has the kick, and he sprawls very heavy, so [this bout] excites me,” the 38-year-old says.
“I know he’s going to try to make the fight stay standing up. I know the way he wants to fight me, and that’s a big thing.
“The only thing that will surprise me is if he tries to use jiu-jitsu against me. I know he’s going to try to [use his] stand-up, but I still beat all the people that try to do that with me.
“I’m very excited because I want to see how much I’ve improved from the last fight.”
The pair first met in January 2016 in a bout that Fernandes won via first-round submission. Even though he acknowledges Belingon has improved his game, he says he is still a step ahead of the Filipino.
“He’s a pretty good fighter, but when I look back when I fought him last, I won within five minutes. He didn’t touch me. I kicked him, I punched him, I took him down, and I finished him,” he explains.
“For sure, he improved, but I improved too, and I understand the improvement. I respect Kevin, but I don’t think his jiu-jitsu is going to be on my level.”
Fernandes sustained a foot injury during his recent win over Martin Nguyen – a five-round battle that went all the way to a split decision.
The injury – caused by his kicks during the contest – left him on the shelf, during which time Belingon captured the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Title by defeating Nguyen by unanimous decision.
“The injury was my foot, but the recovery did not really take that long. After I hurt myself, ONE Championship wanted me to fight right away, two months later,” he recalls.
“I said I could not do that. I still needed to let my foot heal, and I had a letter from my doctor in Canada. They then did the interim title for Kevin and Martin, but I am happy that I get to fight the winner.”
Fernandes sat at cageside to witness Belingon’s impressive win over “The Situ-Asian,” and says he has noticed the changes “The Silencer” has made to his game.
But the Brazilian says that he knows how the Filipino will approach the contest, and he will be ready for it.
“When I watch him, the only thing I think he really improved on was his sprawl. He now has a big sprawl,” the Brazilian says.
“He has that, and he comes with the nice punches and nice kicks. He’s good, but I know everything he’s going to try to do right now. If I look at the past, I hit him with more punches than he hit me in the last fight.
“I’m ready for a good fight. I am ready for anything, but inside the cage, things can change.
“We don’t know how the fight will go, so I will be ready for everything.”