(Left to right) Masakatsu Ueda, ONE FC CEO Victor Cui and ONE FC bantamweight champion Bibiano Fernandes pose for the cameras. Photo by Dennis Gasgonia, ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines – Brazilian mixed martial arts (MMA) star Bibinano Fernandes is glad to be back in Manila and experience Filipino hospitality again.
Fernandes is set to defend his bantamweight belt against Masakatsu Ueda at the main event of ONE FC: Rise of Heroes, which will take place at the SM Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena on May 2.
“I always feel great to be back in Manila. I feel like I'm born here,” said the 33-year-old Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert during the ONE FC press conference at the MOA Atrium.
Fernandes revealed that in Canada, where he maintains an MMA gym, he’s always been mistaken for a Filipino -- a fact that he’s proud of.
“You see a Filipino in me a little bit,” said the Brazilian, who has already fought twice in the Philippines.
Fernandes started from humble beginnings, working odd jobs near a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym. In exchange for his cleaning services, he was able to enroll at the gym and ended up winning tournaments within months.
He used his success in Jiu-Jitsu as a springboard to MMA.
Fernandes fought in various promotions like K-1, King of the Cage and Dream fighting championship, until he entered a deal with ONE FC in 2012. Within a year, he became the ONE FC bantamweight champion.
He said he sees a Filipino in himself because of his positive outlook in life.
“I like the [Filipino] people, they work hard… you come here in the Philippines and see nobody sad. You walk in the street you see everybody’s happy and smiling,” he said.
Fernandes said he hopes to please the local fans when he collides against Ueda, the Japanese grappler who defeated Kevin Belingon in the ONE bantamweight grand prix finals.
He vowed to bring the fight to Ueda and keep his belt.
“The boy is a very tough kid and he beat a lot of Brazilians already, this time I’ll be coming for him,” said Fernandes.
Ueda himself is looking forward to wrest the title and earn the Pinoy fans along the way.
“I'm looking forward and very committed to this match. This will be a very deep fight, I hope you will come and see what happens,” he said.
"Rise of Heroes" will also feature fan-favorite and former Muay Thai national team member Eugene Toquero.
Toquero will again showcase his striking skills this time against young Malaysian fighter Gianni Subba.