Demetrious Johnson is gearing up for a May 29 fight with ONE flyweight champ Adriano Moraes: a deadly Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist with power to boot. Needless to say, this would be an opportune time for Johnson call on his long-time friend and training partner, ONE bantamweight champ Bibiano Fernandes, who bears many stylistic similarities to Moraes.
Unfortunately, Johnson and Fernandes will probably be unable to reach one another anytime soon. Living in Bellevue, Washington and Vancouver, B.C respectively, they’re only about 120 miles apart as the crow flies. Yet they’re also separated by the US-Canada border, which has become an almost insurmountable hurdle in the time of the coronavirus.
“I don’t if I can do that,” Fernandes told BJPENN.com when asked if he’d be able to help Johnson prepare for his fight with Moraes. “Because of what’s happening, we can’t cross from Canada into Bellevue. I could help him, but right now I can’t go down there because the border is closed. We can’t cross, and nobody can come here.”
While Fernandes would love to help Johnson prepare for the dangerous test that is Moraes, he feels his friend will be well-prepared regardless.
“I began to train with DJ in 2010,” Fernandes said. “That’s when he fought Dominick Cruz. I think he knows the way I think about jiu-jitsu. He’s learned so much. You can see that in the last couple of fights he did. He’s finished people — he’s arm-locked people, choked people. I think I gave my skills to him already, [and] my knowledge of jiu-jitsu. We’ve spent many years together. Now it’s his decision and choice to not lose the skill.”
Fernandes has actually trained and fought through similar situations in the past.
The ONE bantamweight champ last fought in Tokyo, Japan in October. Unfortunately, his coach was unable to make it to that fight due to Typhoon Hagibis, which pummelled the Japanese archipelago in the days leading up to the event. Fernandes then had to fight without his coach, but having already absorbed much of his coach’s knowledge, was able to get the job done, submitting his foe Kevin Belingon with an armbar.
“My coach, for my last fight, he couldn’t make it to Japan with me because there was a typhoon, ” Fernandes recounted. “He said ‘Bibi, I can’t go with you, but you already know what to do. You’ve already trained with me many times in your life. You’ve trained so hard for this, you’ve trained many years. Go out there and do your job.’ That’s what he told me. I can say that same thing to DJ.”
How do you think Demetrious Johnson will perform against Adriano Moraes if he’s unable to train with Bibiano Fernandes?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 3/31/2020.