On Friday night (Friday morning in North America), in the main event of ONE: HEART OF THE LION in Singapore, ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano Fernandes will attempt to unify his undisputed title with the interim title currently owned by Kevin Belingon.
As this challenge bears down, the dominant ONE Championship bantamweight king is dialed in on the task at hand.
“I feel good now,” he told BJPENN.COM in Singapore on Thursday. “I feel great, ready for tomorrow. I rested my body today and I’ll wake up tomorrow feeling 100%.”
Bibiano Fernandes and Kevin Belingon were originally expected to meet in the ONE: HEART OF THE LION co-main event. When ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee was forced out of her main event showdown with ONE Women’s Strawweight World Champ Xiong Jing Nan, however, Fernandes and Belingon were promoted to the main event spot.
Fernandes says this shakeup hasn’t really changed anything for him.
“It really doesn’t matter,” he said. “I will go in there, do my job and take care of business. There’s no pressure.”
Bibiano Fernandes and Kevin Belingon have met once before, in the co-main event of ONE: DYNASTY OF CHAMPIONS in 2016. On that night, Fernandes defended his title with a first-round submission of Belingon.
Leading up to their rematch in Singapore, Belingon has stated repeatedly that he had “grade one” level grappling when he first met Fernandes. He assures that, since then, his ground game has improved leaps and bounds.
Fernandes has heard these claims from Belingon, but will wait until he’s in the cage with his foe to assess any improvements in his grappling.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I’ll have to grapple with him a little bit. He can handle the mat with me I think.”
“But if I can get his arm, I can take it home. If I get his back, I can choke him too, you know what I mean?”
While Bibiano Fernandes is expected to have a significant edge in the grappling department in this fight, many members of the MMA bubble feel that Belingon is the sharper, more powerful striker.
Fernandes, however, is not remotely concerned about a shootout with his foe on the feet.
“I’ve done striking with a lot of guys,” he said. “I don’t don’t worry about the striking, that’s not my concern.”
“You have to have the ability to adjust in the fight,” he added. “If I shoot and I don’t get the takedown, I’ll flow.”
In fact, Fernandes believes he has the skill and ability to knock Belingon out. All it will take is a the right strike at the right moment.
“I’ll tell you something,” he said. “If he gives me [the chance to land] a nice clean shot, I can. If he lets me, if I see a clean shot, I can do it.”
If Bibiano Fernandes successfully defends his title against Kevin Belingon at ONE: HEART OF THE LION, he’ll be one step closer to his goal of surpassing his friend Demetrious Johnson’s record of 11-straight title defenses. While this is something he’s keen to do, however, Fernandes says he’ll keep taking his title reign one step at a time.
“I don’t know; we have to go step-by-step,” he said, when asked if he thinks he can match Johnson’s title defense record. “Let’s see how everything goes. DJ is a great champion.”
Do you think Bibiano Fernandes will successfully defend his title at ONE: HEART OF THE LION on Friday night?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 11/8/2018.