There’s clearly no shortage of bad blood between ONE bantamweight champ Bibiano Fernandes and challenger John Lineker. Even if the duo try to downplay the grudge match angle.
The pair face off at ONE X in December, the historic 10 year anniversary show for Asian MMA outfit ONE Championship. For Lineker, who is 3-0 in ONE since exiting the UFC, the fight could mark the culmination of a career-long journey chasing a major title.
Lineker said Tuesday during a face-off interview with Fernandes that he simply wants to beat the champion, regardless of who holds the title. Although, he added, he’d be happy to fight Fernandes even without a belt on the line. “We fighters, we are always ready to fight, whoever that is. If he was in front of me, I would be ready to fight him.”
The champ paid respect to Lineker’s talents early in the interview session. “I respect the way he performs,” Fernandes stated. Fernandes took offense, however, to Lineker repeatedly texting him, asking him for a fight. “I said ‘you know what man, I’m not the promotion. If you want to fight with me, call Chatri [Sityodtong, ONE Chairman and CEO].'”
Lineker admitted to texting the champ. “Yes I did text him, I told him ‘we have to fight, it’s our moment. I want to be in front of you, I want to be the champion.’ So yes, I did.”
Things took more of a turn when Fernandes was asked if things were personal, and was reminded that he had said “f*ck John Lineker” in a previous interview.
“This is not personal. This is not personal. Everything is, he texted me, he texted me, he texted me. F*ck man. Do you really want to text me? F*ck. Go call the boss. Go call the matchmakers out there,” responded Fernandes. “Don’t come and text here. Like, come on man. Go text the people that make the fight. Stop texting me. F*ck, come on bro. What’s going on? But I don’t give a sh*t. I don’t care.”
For his part, Lineker claimed that his “first message on Instagram to Bibiano was polite,” which Fernandes immediately called a lie. Lineker went on to say that the champ’s answer “was aggressive, it was not good, it was impolite, it was rude. He even erased the message later.”
When Lineker suggested he’d knock the champ out, the Fernandes downplayed the threat. “It’s easy to talk when you’re there at the computer,” Fernandes retorted. “Just look at the stats, my KOs, you just have to look, and you will see you’re just going to try.”
For years now, Lineker has chased first Demetrious Johnson, and now Bibiano Fernandes, teammates at AMC Pankration. That’s a long time to be focused on one team, and Lineker has arguably spent a lot of his career in the shadow of the two champions. Asked about that during Tuesday’s interview session, Lineker told Cageside Press that “it’s a great honor to have this opportunity to fight with the champion, but the most important thing is the show. The show can’t stop. We have to have a good show.”
Watch the full ONE X face-off interview with Bibiano Fernandes and John Lineker above. The pair will throw down on December 5, 2021 in Singapore.