EXCLUSIVE: Bibiano Fernandes says John Lineker lacks the discipline to be a world champion

ONE Championship bantamweight king Bibiano Fernandes has a lot of respect for his ONE: X opponent John Lineker. However, he sees a major difference between the two that explains why he has held a major championship, while his Brazilian counterpart hasn’t: Discipline.

Since leaving the Ultimate Fighting Championship and signing with ONE in July of 2019, “Hands of Stone” has been a dominant force in the promotion. Winning all three of his fights, and two by knockout, en route to earning his opportunity against the best bantamweight in promotion history, current champion Bibiano Fernandes (24-4).

Lineker (34-9) has built quite a reputation as a destructive force over his first 33 MMA fights. As he’s used a pressuring style and his uncanny punching power to overwhelm opponents. However, “The Flash” doesn’t feel any added concern over the threat that Lineker poses. Nor does he need to manufacture a rivalry between the two to mentally prepare for his tenth bantamweight title defense. He loves to compete, so pressure and lack of motivation never factor in on fight night.

Although he respects the dangers in Lineker’s abilities, he more is excited to show why he is a championship-level fighter, and the UFC veteran is not.

Bibiano Fernandes doesn’t view John Lineker as a championship-level fighter

bibiano fernandes, john lineker, one championship
Credit: ONE Championship

“I love a challenge and I love big pressure. The more pressure, I grow. Today, people asked me, how do you handle the pressure. And I asked, what is that about? I don’t understand pressure,” Fernandes told MixedMartialArts.com with a laugh. “I love what I do. Why am I going to feel pressure? I enjoy what I do. I don’t go outside and fight in the street. This is my job. I love to do it, I love to compete. I’m a true mixed martial artist. A true mixed martial artist has confidence and believes in themself. I don’t [say stuff] like, ‘f*ck you John Lineker, I’m gonna beat the sh*t out of you.’ I don’t do that, but if you want to fight me, yes, come on [we’ll fight].

“When I watch John Lineker, he is a one direction fighter. He likes to brawl, he’s very open with everything, and sometimes he lets people hit him and then goes back again. That’s the way he fights. But the thing is, he doesn’t know my power. He doesn’t know the way I fight. For this, I’m very excited because he doesn’t respect me yet until he feels [my striking]. I will say he’s a good fighter, but I’m not going to say he’s a champion fighter. Because he’s had many opportunities to become champion [and] he never did it. But he’s a very good fighter. He fights very well.”

Fernandes claims Lineker lacks the discipline to be a champion

Fernandes, 41, isn’t basing his opinion on Lineker, 31, simply based on the fact that his fellow Brazilian never scored a title fight in the UFC. He believes his opponent on Dec. 5 just has a general lack of discipline. Fernandes feels Lineker showed it in his past difficulties making the flyweight limit in the UFC, and also recently during negotiations to get their upcoming fight booked. He feels this lack of discipline in managing his weight and not always being ready, is an example of a greater problem that has limited Lineker from reaching the upper echelon of the industry.

“Like four or five weeks ago we talked. [ONE CEO Chatri Sityodtong], me, the matchmaker for ONE Championship, and I said, ‘I’ll fight John Lineker three weeks from now.’ I waited one day, two days, three days, and the guys come back and they say John Lineker can’t make weight, he’s too heavy right now. Maybe he’ll fight you in December. I said, well I don’t understand that. He said he’d fight me anytime, any moment. And now he says he cannot make weight? That’s not my problem. I’m here, I’m exactly at my weight right now. Why? Because I have the discipline. And he’s missed weight many times. … He needs to be discipline,” Fernades said.

“I’m not his coach but I’ll say this for you. He has to change his discipline. Because how can somebody be very heavy and [not be available] to fight me in three weeks? I’ll fight him in three weeks. He said any time, any moment. … When you go back in history, you’ll see this [MMA great] wins five times, or wins the belt three times, how did he do that? Because he knows something, he focuses, pushes the energy, and puts in the time.”

Bibiano Fernandes vs John Lineker will take place on the main card of ONE: X on Sunday, Dec. 5, from the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore. The event will be headlined by a special-rules bout between MMA flyweight start Demetrious Johnson and ONE flyweight Muay Thai champion Rodtang Jitmaungnon.

In the full interview embedded at the top, Fernandes also spoke about working out his recent issues with the promotion, if he is open to trying for a title in another weight class, and he gave his thoughts on teammate Johnson facing Rodtang on the same card.

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