Bibiano Fernandes, arguably the most successful fighters in ONE Championship history, never expected to compete on the same card as his long-time friend and training partner Demetrious Johnson. When ONE Championship traded Ben Askren to the UFC in exchange for Johnson, however, it was suddenly a possibility.
As luck would have it, Bibiano Fernandes and Demetrious Johnson are both set to compete at ONE: A New Era on March 31 in Tokyo — in back-to-back fights.
Demetrious Johnson will take to the cage first, where he’ll battle Yuya Wakamatsu in an effort to advance to the second round of the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix. Bibiano Fernandes will then have his moment in the spotlight, as he seeks to reclaim the ONE bantamweight title from the man he lost it to in November, Kevin Belingon.
“DJ is a good kid,” Fernandes told BJPenn.com, sharing his excitement about competing on the same card as his training partner. “He works so hard. I never thought I’d have the opportunity to share an event with him.
“Before, a long time ago, I fought on the same event as Eddie Alvarez in DREAM. Me, Alvarez, [Shinya] Aoki… we fought on the same card before, but with Demetrious Johnson, never. I’m very happy. “
“He’s a good friend of mine. I was with him a couple of days ago, now I’m back in Vancouver. He’s very excited and I’m very excited too.”
When Bibiano Fernandes rematches Kevin Belingon in Tokyo, it will mark his 12th appearance in the ONE Championship cage. The former UFC flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson, meanwhile, will be making his ONE Championship debut.
Fernandes says he’s given Johnson a bit of advice as he prepares for this occasion, particularly about how to cope with jet lag and the other strains of traveling to Asia for a fight.
“I’ve given him a lot [of advice], I’ve talked to him a lot,” he said. “He asked ‘how is the jet lag, how do I adjust.’ I said ‘if you can go a couple days early, please go, because you will feel the jet lag. And when you arrive, you’ll want to go to sleep, try not to sleep. Stay awake for a little bit.’ That’s what happens.”
“This week I started waking up at like five in the morning Pacific time, so when I get there I’ll be more ready for my fight,” Fernandes added, explaining how he deals with the challenges of fighting internationally. “I do this a lot.
“I understand [the challenges of fighting overseas] pretty well. I don’t know everything, but I can help my friends.”
Understandably, Bibiano Fernandes is very excited for his rematch with Belingon, and to watch his training partner Demetrious Johnson make his ONE Championship debut.
“I think me and Kevin will have a good fight, and I think DJ will have a good fight with the Japanese guy [Wakamatsu], because he really wants to beat DJ.”
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 3/22/2019.