Eleven-time ONE bantamweight world champion Bibiano Fernandes (24-5) is hoping for a big return to winning ways.
At ONE on Prime Video 4, "The Flash" will battle streaking knockout artist Stephen Loman (16-2) in a matchup that's pivotal for both the bantamweight MMA division and his own career.
After losing his world title to fellow Brazilian John Lineker in March at "ONE: Lights Out," the former longtime divisional king got back to work.
He immediately began honing his mixed martial arts game while also staying busy outside of the gym.
The current No. 3-ranked contender said:
"Since the defeat, I've been training a lot. I also focused on my business and my family, and I did an MMA event in Manaus, but I've been training a lot. I made several adjustments, and I'm ready to fight on November 18."
The loss to "Hands of Stone" came more than two years after Fernandes' previous appearance – a break in routine that was a challenge for the 42-year-old.
With that in mind, he's excited to get back inside the ONE circle and feels confident in his ability to bounce back.
The Brazilian explained:
"The fight with Lineker was a good experience. I hadn't fought for many years, and I didn't have a fight rhythm. But now, I'm trained and focused for my next challenge."
Fernandes sees big grappling advantage against Loman
Fernandes' next challenge will come in the form of Filipino sensation and No. 5-ranked bantamweight contender Loman.
Undefeated since 2016 and riding a 10-bout winning streak, "The Sniper" is a supremely dangerous opponent for the former world champion's return to the ONE circle.
And after nearly 20 years of experience competing in professional MMA, Fernandes is quick to recognize that threat.
"Stephen Loman is a great athlete. He's in great physical shape, he's a fighter who hits and moves all the time. He kicks a lot, throws overhands with his left hand, and moves a lot in the cage. He's an excellent fighter.
"On the day of the fight, I will be ready to face him. He's a good athlete, and he can even beat me, but I'll tell you something: He won't win easily. It will be a war."
Even though both men are skilled in all areas, the showdown on November 18 is essentially a striker-versus-grappler matchup.
For his part, Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Fernandes is well aware that he'll need to be extremely cautious in all of the stand-up exchanges.
"The Flash" said:
"My striking has evolved a lot. He has a very good striking game, he has a dangerous left hand, he works well with his right hand hooks, and his straight with his left hand. I understand his game. He's a dangerous guy, and he moves a lot."
Loman's striking prowess was on full display in his ONE debut when he scored a stunning first-round knockout of then No. 3-ranked bantamweight contender Yusup Saadulaev.
"The Sniper" then followed that up with an entertaining decision win over Japanese star Shoko Sato this past March at ONE X.
But while he owns a devastating standup game, the Filipino has rarely been tested on the canvas.
On the flip side, it's no secret that Fernandes is one of the best submission stylists in all of MMA. A multiple-time IBJJF black belt world champion, the ground specialist fully intends to press his jiu-jitsu advantage and hunt for a stoppage.
"I'm sure my grappling is far superior to his grappling. I'm sure he's working hard not to be taken down, but I'm prepared and focused for this fight. I'm training a lot my striking and my ground game. I'm going to test his grappling, his wrestling, and his striking. I'm sure I'll have a good fight against him. If he messes up, I'll finish him."
This story first published at ONEFC.com.