01 Jan Bibiano Fernandes names John Lineker, Shoko Sato as potential challengers for ONE title
It’s time for Bibiano Fernandes to focus on what the future brings inside the ONE Championship cage after putting an end to his quartet of fights with Kevin Belingon, and “The Flash” has two names in mind on who should be the next contender.
The first is Shoko Sato (35-16-3, 1 no-contest), an experienced Japanese fighter who rides a five-fight winning steak under the Shooto and ONE banners, all by knockout or submission.
The other is John Lineker, a fellow Brazilian bantamweight who after a long UFC career got his hand raised in his promotional debut against Muin Gafurov.
“They can give it to either one of those two,” Fernandes told MMA Fighting. “I’m waiting to see who that is. I’ll study and prepare to face whoever they want. It can be one of those two.”
Fernandes won 16 of his last 17 MMA bouts, having avenged the lone loss to Belingon in his most recent appearance. He agrees “Hands of Stone” Lineker is probably the best option due to his name value.
“So, yeah, that’s better – fighting him might be way better,” Fernandes said. “It would be a good fight because of his name, because he used to fight in the UFC.”
Lineker shared the octagon with some of the best bantamweights and flyweights in the world over the past eight years, scoring wins over the likes of Brian Kelleher, Marlon Vera, John Dodson, Michael McDonald and Ian McCall with his fan-favorite brawling style.
Fernandes, a jiu-jitsu wizard himself, describes Lineker’s fighting attributes as “good,” but “not that good if you wanna fight longer” due to the amount of damage he’s taken.
“I’d rather have my fighting style,” Fernandes said. “Come in, be aggressive, get the takedown. Hit and get hit. I mix it up a lot more. That’s why I’ll probably fight for more time.”
Regardless of who the opponent is, it will probably take a while before “The Flash” puts his title on the line again. Even though Fernandes continues to train in Canada while ONE has shows on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, he needs a few weeks to prepare for a MMA bout.
“My return is entirely up to ONE Championship,” he said. “I have no idea when they plan on doing a show. I need at least seven, eight weeks to prepare for a fight. I’m staying fit, training jiu-jitsu, muay thai and wrestling.”
“I have to be careful,” he continued. “No one knows the potential of (this disease). I’d rather be careful. I have small kids, my wife’s health isn’t that good, so I’d rather be careful.”