By The Canadian Press on March 11, 2022.
SINGAPORE — Brazilian John (Hands of Stone) Lineker knocked out Brazilian-Canadian Bibiano (The Flash) Fernandes to claim the One Championship bantamweight title on Friday in the co-main event of the “One” mixed martial arts card: Lights Out”.
Lineker (35-9-0) lived up to his moniker, flooring the longtime champion with a nasty left hook in the second round. Referee Olivier Coste stopped the fight three minutes 40 seconds into the round.
The 41-year-old Fernandes (24-5-0) had won 16 of the previous 17 fights since December 2010, winning the 145-pound title for the first time in 2013. But the Vancouver resident couldn’t resist the power of the No. 1 competitor.
“Bibiano is very strong but I believe in my hands,” Lineker, 31, said after the victory that earned him a US$50,000 bonus.
This was the third match attempt.
A December 5 card in Singapore has been canceled due to the rising number of COVID cases. And their Feb. 11 “One Championship: Bad Blood” main event was canceled after Lineker tested positive for COVID.
The hard-hitting Brazilian, who entered the fight with 15 knockouts to his name, had won all three of his 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 the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
A determined-looking Fernandes went to Eminem’s “‘Till I Collapse.” He weighed 145 pounds, two more than Lineker.
There was no love lost between the two fighters, who traded barbs on social media ahead of the fight. But they touched gloves before a first lap in action.
Fernandes grabbed a leg and knocked Lineker down on the fence in the first minute. But he couldn’t do any damage and Lineker got back on his feet.
Lineker caught Fernandes with a left and a right, causing him to wobble. Fernandes fought back, dropping Lineker with a left to the head.
They went to the floor with Lineker emerging in first position. Fernandes’ face began to show damage as he took blows from above.
Fernandes, the bigger fighter, started to find his reach in the second round and scored another takedown 90 seconds later. Lineker made his way to the feet and they exchanged blows on the fence, with a big mouse visible under Fernandes’ right eye.
Lineker finished it with a massive punch that knocked Fernandes down.
Lineker fought 16 times for the UFC before joining One in July 2019. After losing weight several times as a flyweight, he returned to bantamweight but was cut by the UFC after retiring of a last-minute event.
Fernandes captured the Interim One title in May 2013 when he won a unanimous decision over Japan’s Koetsu Okazaki. He unified the championship less than five months later, deciding South Korean Soo Chul Kim.
Fernandes hadn’t fought since October 2019 when he defeated Filipino fighter Kevin (The Silencer) Belingon for the 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 defeated by first-round submission in a title fight in January 2016. Fernandes regained his title in March 2019 when Belingon was disqualified for an illegal elbow in the second round.
Fernandes survived a poor 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 in the streets and cleaning cars and houses. He often opted for payment in food rather than cash.
He was 14 when a benefactor paid for jiu-jitsu lessons at a neighborhood gym. Fernandes got into it quickly, and when the money for classes ran out, he started cleaning the gym to pay his fees.
He eventually became a decorated black belt in BJJ before moving to North America. Now married with three sons, Fernandes has lived in Canada for over 15 years, becoming a citizen in 2016.
Lineker is a brown belt in BJJ.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on March 11, 2022