It’s a fight that fans have been calling for ever since Lineker made his ONE championship debut back in 2019, a great stylistic matchup between two of the most well-known bantamweight fighters on the planet.
Of course, the champ, Fernandes, does expect to have more routes to victory on Friday, but he still has a lot of respect for the “Hands of Stone” Lineker possesses inside the cage.
“In the beginning I was watching a little bit to see how he throws his punches, learning about his style and how he kind of loops his punches sometimes,” Fernandes said in an interview with MMA Empire.
“Now I know what he wants to do out there so I can focus on myself and what I do great. For sure when I go inside the cage I have to be careful with these small gloves, make sure my feet are moving, my hands are up and make sure the night is my night.”
Fernandes is more than aware of his fellow Brazilian’s capability to put the lights out at any moment and also feels he has a bit of a mean streak.
Ready for whatever when he steps into the cage to do battle Friday, Fernandes knows how unpredictable the fight game can be.
“John Lineker is very explosive and he wants to knock you out,” Fernandes explained.
“For me, when I look at him, I think he’s a very dangerous guy. Sometimes I think what the f**k this guy really wants to hurt people, you know what I mean? But I’m going to make sure my conditioning and timing are on point. I’m going to be in the moment. I know he’ll try to keep the fight standing and defend my takedowns, but I’ll do my best to adjust. If my takedowns aren’t working, that’s all good, I won’t waste my energy, we’ll fight a little bit. He has very good hands, so let’s see how it goes. I’m very excited for this fight.”
Fernandes will look to add to his already outstanding resume when he goes for his ONE championship record eighth title defence. Although he wasn’t really looking to chase the record he’s definitely proud of the accomplishment.
“I actually had no idea how many times I defended my belt,” Fernandes said.
“All I was thinking about was just getting fight after fight and getting wins. But looking back it’s really awesome to have this many title defences.”
Born in Manaus, Brazil, ONE bantamweight champ Fernandes has called Langley, B.C. and Revolution Martial Arts home for quite some time. It’s the main reason why the multiple time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion has found so much success in MMA.
“I train here with BJJ black belt Robin Haluska. He’s my black belt; we’ve trained together for a long time,” Fernandes said.
“We also have lots of guys coming here from big promotions like Tristan Connelly and Jeremy Kennedy, so we have a lot of black belts and a lot of really good guys to work with and push each other. I’m really happy with my camp.”
At 41 years young, Fernandes has been competing in combat sports at a high level for over 20 years.
Fernandes not only brings a wealth of experience to the cage but also a tried and tested formula when it comes to preparation.
“The reason I’ve been able to go for such a long time; my body is my temple,” Fernandes explained.
“I’ve always eaten healthy, I don’t want to put something into my body unless it’s going to help me. I also make sure to get good sleep, I need at least eight hours. Especially at my age, I need to make sure I recover and repair my body.”
Focusing more on recovery and smarter training as he’s gotten older, Fernandes is still showing improvement late into his career.
Fernandes has become a well-rounded fighter while developing a unique style that works for him.
“I think my standup and my wrestling have really improved a lot,” Fernandes said.
“It’s all about repetition. I started out as a jiu-jitsu guy, but I’m in the gym wrestling constantly. I used to just use my hands a lot on takedowns but I’ve gotten better at using my hips so I’ve gained a lot of strength in my takedowns. I’m a big fan of scrambles and transitions also. In between takedowns is where I’m most successful.”