Former Bantamweight King Bibi Fernandes Preps for ONE on Prime Video 4: “Jiu-Jitsu is the Grandmother of MMA”

At age 42, Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes is one of the ONE Circle’s longest-reigning MMA champions. He’s earned the bantamweight crown twice over, and though he lost his second title to John Lineker back in March 2022, Fernandes remains a top-five ranked bantamweight on the ONE Championship roster. 

He also hasn’t ruled out the possibility of a third title reign – but for the time being, he’s keeping his eyes on the task ahead of him: beating 27-year-old up-and-comer Stephen Loman in the Circle on November 18’s talent-stacked card for ONE on Prime Video 4

“I like to [stay] in the moment,” Fernandes explains to the Jiu-Jitsu Times. “[Stephen Loman] is my focus. This is my goal. I want to keep one hundred percent of my mind here. We’ll see what happens – if I beat the guy, I’ll go to ONE Championship and see what they want. But I’ve defended my belt many times. I’ve held that belt many times, for many years.” He grins. “I’ve held that belt for a long, long time, and it’s waiting for someone – I think it’s waiting for me.” 

Loman versus Fernandes is a classic matchup of youth versus experience. As an athlete still in his twenties, Loman is Fernandes’ junior by a whopping fifteen years. Fernandes however, has years of cage time on Loman, and expresses no sense of apprehension regarding the age gap. 

“Experience is the key for every competition,” insists Fernandes. “And if your mind is there – and my mind is there, my body is there – I’ll bring the best I have. When I fight, I don’t think about how old the guy is, or the experience. It’s how I feel. If I feel good, if I feel strong, if I want to do this, I’ll keep going […] For me, age doesn’t matter. It’s the experience, the heart, and how much you want it.”

As a fighter in his forties, Fernandes has also learned to preserve his body carefully. “I believe in good food, good sleep, and staying away from stress,” he says. “Make sure you know what kind of battles you want to [take on].” He advises avoiding unnecessary confrontation, and taking the path of peace where possible. “Stay away from negative people and negative thoughts, and it’ll keep you going,” he adds. 

Fernandes also partially credits the longevity of his MMA career to his highly-decorated Brazilian jiu-jitsu resume, which includes five gold medals at IBJJF Worlds – three of them won at black belt. According to Fernandes, his high-level grappling skills have helped him avoid taking too much serious damage over the course of his career in the cage. 

“Sometimes I think, ‘Oh my god, this fight is going to be a war,’” says Fernandes. “And jiu-jitsu is there to help me.” He recounts a tournament from his DREAM days, where he was able to stay fresh, thanks to carefully-applied jiu-jitsu skills, which he used to avoid damage and preserve energy.  

“I believe that jiu-jitsu is the grandmother of mixed martial arts,” explains Fernandes. “Why? Because if you look at it, thousands of years ago, monks did jiu-jitsu. If you look at traditional jiu-jitsu from thousands and thousands of years ago, that was what you used to defend yourself. And that kind of jiu-jitsu can help you a lot.”

He’s careful, however, to differentiate that brand of jiu-jitsu from the type commonly seen at sport tournaments today. “Jiu-jitsu for points is a different jiu-jitsu,” he elaborates. “You cannot play butterfly, you cannot play fifty-fifty in an MMA fight because you’re going to get punched in the face. You have to release the technique and go for something else – but you can take someone down and control them, or if someone takes you down, you can [joint-lock] them, or take the back.”

That said, he believes his time competing in major IBJJF tournaments offered him a degree of mental preparedness as an athlete. “For a diamond to become beautiful, you have to have pressure,” he acknowledges. “My life has always put pressure on me.” He recounts the exhaustion of going from match to match at big jiu-jitsu tournaments, and the way he’d mentally steel himself for each opponent before arriving in the finals. 

“There are so many people watching you – and so much pressure! But that made me strong,” says Fernandes. “I believe that pressure makes you strong.”

While Fernandes remains focused on his own fight on November 18, he looks forward to sharing the card with some other world class submission grapplers, including women’s jiu-jitsu ace Danielle Kelly, who will be taking on multiple-time world sambo champion Mariia Molchanova the same night. 

“I have an interest in [ONE’s submission grappling, as well as MMA],” Fernandes shares. “If the right opponent is there, I’ll be there to compete, one hundred percent, to see how my jiu-jitsu goes. I think Chatri’s done a great job of giving opportunities to young [grappling athletes], especially a lot of Brazilians, a lot of Russians, a lot of Americans, who have all come to compete. That’s the dream for a lot of people.”

“I think ONE Championship has done a great job of promoting grappling matches,” he adds. “And I think that’s going to help it continue growing more and more and more.” 

Don’t miss Fernandes vs. Loman on ONE on Prime Video 4 on Friday, November 18 at 8 PM EST, streaming via Amazon Prime.

In the meantime, keep up with Bibiano Fernandes news by following him on Instagram.


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