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The best bantamweight not in the UFC

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onefc15_bibiano The best bantamweight not in the UFC

Article originally written on 24hrs Vancouver.

Local fighter Bibiano Fernandes (19-3) is the best bantamweight fighter that “isn’t in the UFC.” At least that’s how people keep describing him.

The man they call “The Flash” lives a quiet life here in the Lower Mainland. He trains at Revolution Martial Arts in Langley and also spends time at AMC Pankration in Washington State with the likes of UFC flyweight champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson.

The best bantamweight not in the UFC

Last Saturday morning, Fernandes defended his ONE FC Bantamweight Championship by first-round submission of challenger Kevin Belingon (13-5) in Changsha, China. It was the 11th straight victory for the 36-year-old who hasn’t lost since 2010. Right after the fight, I asked the champ if this win was any more special than the previous victories in his long decorated career.

“Every victory is important to me,” said Fernandes. “I look at every fight equally and as a new challenge. But of course every win keeps me up in the rankings, which is good.”

How much further can Bibiano go up in rank? Currently he sits as the fifth best bantamweight in the world. Some believe that until he fights guys who are currently on the UFC roster, his rise up the rankings will be limited.

Many have wondered why such a talented fighter has never stepped foot in a UFC cage? It’s probably the most common question that is asked of him every time he notches a win.

It’s not unheard of for fighters to avoid the big lights of the Octagon. Some have made a nice career in mixed martial arts fighting overseas.

With the pay scale that the UFC offers and the exclusive contracts, it’s no wonder that a happy-go-lucky guy like Fernandes prefers to have the freedom to fight where he wants and when he wants.

He has about “three or four more fights” on his current ONE FC deal. The UFC is not on the radar for a couple more years, if at all.

When asked if he ever thinks about fighting the likes of current UFC Bantamweight champion Dominic Cruz, the answer is honest as it is quick. “If I had the opportunity to fight the UFC champ (Cruz) I would say yes, let’s go. I’d love to accept the challenge.”

For now, Fernandes returns home to Vancouver to be with his wife and kids as a champion, and one the best fighters on the planet.

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