Bibiano Fernandes may not be a member of the UFC roster, but that’s just fine by the former two-division Dream champion.
UFC officials erroneously announced Fernandes’ signing this summer, and the MMA media followed suit in reporting the 32-year-old’s apparent UFC 149 booking against Roland Delorme. The only problem was that Fernandes had not actually put pen to paper.
Instead, “The Flash” elected to sign with Singapore-based promotion One FC and is now poised to make his organizational debut against Australia’s Cage Fighting Championship bantamweight titlist Gustavo Falciroli in the main event of One FC 5 One FC 5 "Pride of a Nation." The event takes place Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Philippines, and streams live on pay-per-view.
“[Signing with One FC] was better for me and my family. Why would I go fight [in the] UFC for sh---y money? I have a family,” Fernandes recently told Sherdog.com “I believe One FC can be the best -- the No. 1 promotion in the world. One FC will be around for a long time for sure, depending on how everyone works together, and depending on me too.”
In Falciroli, Fernandes faces a dangerous but somewhat lower-profile fighter than many of the men he faced during nearly three years with Dream. According to Fernandes, his opponent’s potential drawing power is an aspect of the bout with which he does not concern himself, instead electing to focus his energy on the combat itself.
“[Name recognition] doesn't matter for me. He is good, and we will see what will happen,” Fernandes said. “There will be a lot of people there, but that does not bother me, because I always fought in front of a lot of people in Japan. I don’t think about how many people are watching, only about my opponent, and that's it. I want to feel him -- to see how strong he is, how quick he is, what he is doing, how he moves. After that, I can play my game.”
Though Fernandes is known as a potent grappler, so is his fellow expat countryman. Despite this, Fernandes believes his ground game will be the one that prevails when he locks horns with Falciroli in the evening’s headliner.
“I think my ground game for MMA is better than his, 100 percent. I think he will try to take me down and put me on my back,” said Fernandes. “He is going to punch, kick, try everything. This is MMA, and I was born for this stuff. I have three belts, and I understand the game more than other people.”
When Fernandes steps into the cage, it will mark the first time he has competed since knocking out Antonio Banuelos on New Year’s Eve to win Dream’s bantamweight strap. Though his clash with Falciroli will mark his first fight this year, Fernandes says the time spent away from the cage is simply a part of his routine.
“[Whether] I fight jiu-jitsu or MMA, I always take a break, because I like taking care of myself. The break has for sure helped me, because if you fight, fight, fight, you get a broken mind,” said Fernandes. “I like to clear my mind until I am ready to go again. I want to wait and listen to what my body says, and now I have no injuries. Now I feel good, and I want to fight now because my body wants to fight.”
Though Fernandes is fully aware of the substantial test that currently stands in front of him, the 32-year-old nonetheless will welcome an opportunity to compete for the One FC bantamweight crown if and when it comes in the future.
“I am a fighter, and I love fighting,” said Fernandes. “If One FC wants me to fight for the belt in October, I will do it. I am a born warrior, and I like to go to war.”