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Vancouver's Bibiano Fernandes loses One Championship title by knockout

SINGAPORE — Brazil's John (Hands of Stone) Lineker knocked out Brazilian-Canadian Bibiano (The Flash) Fernandes to win the One Championship bantamweight title Friday in the co-main event of the "One: Lights Out" mixed martial arts card.
Bibiano (The Flash) Fernandes, right, fights Kevin (The Silencer) Belingon in the Tokyo in this Oct. 13, 2019 file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-One Championship

SINGAPORE — Brazil's John (Hands of Stone) Lineker knocked out Brazilian-Canadian Bibiano (The Flash) Fernandes to win the One Championship bantamweight title Friday in the co-main event of the "One: Lights Out" mixed martial arts card.

Lineker (35-9-0) lived up to his nickname, flooring the longtime champion with a nasty left hook in the second round. Referee Olivier Coste stopped the bout three minutes 40 seconds into the round.

The 41-year-old Fernandes (24-5-0) had won 16 of previous 17 fights dating back to December 2010, first winning the 145-pound title in 2013. But the Vancouver resident could not withstand the power of the No. 1 contender.

"Bibiano is very strong but I believe in my hands," the 31-year-old Lineker said after the win which earned him a US$50,000 bonus.

It marked the third attempt at the matchup.

A Dec. 5 card in Singapore was called off due to the rising number of COVID cases. And their Feb. 11 "One Championship: Bad Blood" main event was cancelled after Lineker tested positive for COVID.

The hard-hitting Brazilian, who came in the bout with 15 knockouts to his credit, had won his three previous fights in the Singapore-based One Championship promotion.

Featherweight champion Thanh Le (13-3-0) needed just 56 seconds to finish fellow American Garry (The Lion Killer) Tonon (6-1-0) in Friday's main event at Singapore Indoor Stadium.

A determined-looking Fernandes walked out to Eminem's "'Till I Collapse." He weighed in at 145 pounds, two more than Lineker.

There was no love lost between the two fighters, who exchanged barbs on social media before the bout. But they touched gloves before an all-action first round.

Fernandes grabbed a leg and took Lineker down at the fence inside the first minute. But he was unable to do damage and Lineker got back to his feet.

Lineker caught Fernandes with a left and a right, wobbling him. Fernandes fired back, dropping Lineker with a left to the head.

They went to the ground with Lineker emerging in top position. Fernandes' face started to show damage as he absorbed blows from above.

Fernandes, the bigger fighter, began to find his range in the second round and scored another takedown 90 seconds in. Lineker fought his way back to the feet and they exchanged blows at the fence, with a large mouse visible under Fernandes' right eye.

Lineker ended it with a massive punch that toppled Fernandes.

Lineker fought 16 times for the UFC before joining One in July 2019. After repeatedly missing weight as a flyweight, he returned to bantamweight but was cut by the UFC in the wake of pulling out of an event at the last minute.

Fernandes won the One interim title in May 2013 when he won a unanimous decision over Japan's Koetsu Okazaki. He unified the championship less than five months later, decisioning South Korean Soo Chul Kim.

Fernandes had not fought since October 2019 when he defeated Filipino fighter Kevin (The Silencer) Belingon for a third time, via second-round submission.

Fernandes successfully defended his title seven times before losing a split decision in November 2018 to Belingon, whom he had defeated via first-round submission in a January 2016 title bout. Fernandes regained his title in March 2019 when Belingon was disqualified for an illegal elbow in the second round.

Fernandes survived an impoverished upbringing in Brazil. His mother died when he was seven and he was sent from Manaus to live with his aunt in the Amazon jungle.

As a young teenager, he survived by selling ice cream on the streets and by cleaning cars and houses. He often opted for payment in food rather than money.

He was 14 when a benefactor paid for some jiu-jitsu lessons at a neighbourhood gym. Fernandes took to it quickly, and when money for the lessons ran out, he started cleaning the gym to pay his way.

He eventually became a decorated BJJ black belt before moving to North America. Now married with three sons, Fernandes has lived in Canada for more than 15 years, becoming a citizen in 2016.

Lineker is a brown belt in BJJ.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 11, 2022

The Canadian Press