Bibiano Fernandes fights Koetsu Okazaki for the ONE FC interim bantamweight championship at ONE FC 9: Rise to Power on 31 May in Manila. MMA-in-ASIA spoke with him before the fight.
How has your training been going for this fight?
I’ve been training for eight weeks for this fight. I’ve been training half in Canada with Kultar Gil and a few people and half in Seattle at AMC with Demetrious Johnson and some other people.
You’ve recently said you feel like a complete mixed martial artist now. How has your striking improved?
I think my striking has improved, but why I’m happy is because I can fight MMA. What is MMA? MMA is everything. You can stand up, you can take down the guy, you can submit the guy. If I think I can’t take the guy then I will take him down, if I can’t take him down then I’m going to strike. I feel complete today.
So you’re enjoying it?
I enjoy it, yeah, for sure, it’s my job.
Being your job, it’s the only thing you’re doing? Fighting is the only thing?
No, I teach, I coach. When I coach in Canada, it’s a bunch of privates. People come to me and say, “Bibiano, I want a private.” That’s the way that I do it, I teach people jiu jitsu, grappling, MMA, and that’s the way I keep going in my life. One day in my future, I’ll go and open my own gym, but not now. I want to focus on the fight. I think I have the strength, I can move well. Later, maybe I’m not going to have the strength but I’m going to have the knowledge.
You’re fighting for an interim championship belt, do you feel any extra pressure?
No, I never feel pressure when I fight. Because I fought so many times in jiu jitsu and it helped me with this. When I fight, for me, fighting is a fight. If I fight good, I will win; if I fight bad, I’m going to lose. If I go in there, I’m going to bring my best.
What do you think about all of the new jiu jitsu competitions coming out, like Metamoris, submission only competitions? Do you think it’s helping the sport grow?
Of course, it’s going to help. More promotions are going to make more people notice jiu jitsu, it’s very big now, everybody knows what jiu jitsu it. You ask somebody, “You know jiu jitsu?” “Yeah, I know jiu jitsu!” Everybody knows jiu jitsu. Keep it growing. I think one day, jiu jitsu can be in the Olympics.
What about you? Are you still going to compete in jiu jitsu?
I want to, but I don’t want to do jiu jitsu and MMA (at the same time). If I want to play jiu jitsu, that’s what I do, I don’t fight, I just go through my technique.
How is your family handling this camp?
My wife is very good. My wife, my mother in law, all these people help me. It’s not easy because of the kids, but my mother in law has helped a lot.
You’re fighting in summer now, before you fought in year’s end holidays and that’s difficult.
For me or for my wife? [laughs]
For me, because I can’t have the food! Another thing is it’s hard because I love my family. But I know that God will give me a later time in my life where I’m going to have a lot of time to spend with my family.
So is it good for you to be here at this time of year in Manila?
For this time in my life, yes! In this moment in my life, yes. It’s my job and my family has to eat. I have to bring the food home. I’m the hunter now. [laughs]
Do you have a game plan devised for Okazaki?
Well the gameplan sometimes changes. For me, I don’t like the gameplan really. I think about where I can win the fight, but I want to feel like I put heart into everything. If I do that, then I can expect that everything is coming, and it will be easy. No gameplan, only go fight.
Do you take each fight one at a time?
Each time. I see the guy, look at what he’s doing, and I focus on myself.