Reigning ONE bantamweight champion Bibiano Fernandes has competed for the promotion since 2013, holding the title since that very same year.
Over the last five years, though, he has yet to compete in Bangkok.
That all changes one March 24 when he defends his title against ONE lightweight and featherweight champion Martin Nguyen in the main event of ONE Championship 68: Iron Will from the Impact Arena.
“When Chatri Sityodtong (Chairman and CEO of ONE Championship) called me and asked me what I thought about facing Martin Nguyen. I said it would be great. If that is what he wants, I will do it because that is my job. I have to defend my belt. It does not matter who it is. I am willing to face anyone,” he said. “I have already beaten everybody in the weight class, so when Chatri said Nguyen wanted to come for my belt, I was open to the idea. Now, I do not have to face anybody that I have already beaten. I think this is a very good opportunity. It is not only good for me, but it is also good for the organization and good for the business.”
Fernandes (21-3) earned his sixth title defense this past August when he submitted Andrew Leone in the first round. He’s also defended the belt vs. Reece McLaren, Kevin Belingon, Toni Tauru, Dae Hwan Kim and Masakatsu Ueda since unifying it with a decision victory vs. Soo Chul Kim.
“I am a motivated guy. I do not need someone to motivate me to face him. I do not work like that. I am just here to do my job as a professional martial artist. It is not about motivation, but it is about the challenge,” Fernandes said. “For me, Nguyen is a challenge, Let’s see how good he is, let’s see how tough he is, and let’s see how good his skills are. I want to see that.
“His main strength is that he is a one-punch guy. If you watch his matches, he has one-punch power. He waits to throw that punch.”
The 37-year-old from Brazil trains with UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson and is a member of the Revolution Gym/Carlson Gracie, Team Canada and AMC Pankration teams.
“I train hard. Confidence in my training is more important. Training makes me win. I always say that. I am confident that I will bring a good fight. That is how I am. That is always what I do. I can bring the victory, for sure,” he said. “I push the fight. If he won’t fight, I’ll make him fight. It’s always the same for everybody.”