By J.P. Silva
ONE Championship’s Bantamweight kingpin “The Flash” Bibiano Fernandes may be one of the longest reigning champions in “Asia’s largest MMA promotion,” but according to him, that didn’t stop ONE from rooting for his opponent — Australian MMA fighter and two-division champion Martin Nguyen — last week at ONE Championship’s Iron Will.
According to Combate.com, Fernandes believed ONE Championship was rooting for Nguyen because they wanted to make him another Conor McGregor:
I fought a strategical fight. I was worried with his hand. He has a very heavy hand, so I was cautious to slip it. One punch got me good, but I was able to take him down, took his back, put him down on the ground a few times. I don’t know how the cut (in the face) happened, but it was a good fight. Him being a two division champion was great. They wanted him to be an Asian star. The company [ONE] wanted to make him a [Conor] McGregor, but I did my work really well, but this is business… I go up there in the cage to work and make business. If you watch the fight closely, I am absolutely sure that they wanted him to win against me. I have to doubts about it in my mind. But I was calm, I knew that I had won, that I did my job, kicked his leg, he only got the cut, I took his back, put him down on the ground. Besides, it was all good. And I even punched him with a straight in the fifth round (and knocked down Nguyen).
They wanted him to be an Asian star. The company [ONE] wanted to make him a [Conor] McGregor…If you watch the fight closely, I am absolutely sure that they wanted him to win against me. I have to doubts about it in my mind.
However, Bibiano had nothing but good things to say about his opponent. The Bantamweight champ described Nguyen as a calm, respectful, but slick fighter who worked really well and was similar to the man ONE was trying to turn him into.
That’s why you can’t go rushing things, you have to find your space. His style is of McGregor, but the kid is respectful. Nguyen told me after the fight: “Brother, you got the best that is inside of me. I thank you for the opportunity to fight against you. That was all that he told me inside the cage, but when we are there is all war.”