ONE: Iron Will and Galvanizing A Champion’s Spirit

Dylan Bowker, MMATorch Contributor

ONE Championship: Iron Will goes at Impact Arena in Bangkok and offers several compelling event elements. MMATorch’s Dylan Bowker conducted a Q&A with two main event fighters.


One of the most decorated bantamweights in MMA history will defend his title against a multi division champion. Bibiano Fernandes again defends his ONE Bantamweight title belt but this time it’s against Martin Nguyen who concurrently holds the ONE featherweight and lightweight championships. Martin is vying for the rare distinction of holding three titles simultaneously in a prestigious Mixed Martial Arts promotion. Long reigning ONE titlist Bibiano Fernandes is looking to further solidify an already impressive legacy at 135lbs.

On paper, “The Situ-Asian” taking on “The Flash” is one of the sport’s most riveting lighter-weight bouts this calendar year. MMATorch’s Dylan Bowker was fortunate enough to conduct a brief Q&A with the two elite prize fighters competing in the Saturday, March 24th main event.

Bibiano Fernandes:

DB-You have a well-regarded career but will be turning 38 less than a week after this fight. What are the remaining career goals you have?

BF-To be honest, I can’t answer that at this moment. I’m focused on this fight right now and after I win I will think about my next stop or goal.

DB-Does this seventh title defense have added importance since you’re fighting a concurrent champion at lightweight and featherweight?

BF-I honestly look at each fight as equal importance. They all add a notch to my belt and with each fight I’m making history. I think this fight is great for publicity and the fans. The fact that I’m fighting a concurrent champion definitely adds a factor of excitement for everyone.

DB-Where would a win over Martin rank in the list of key wins throughout your celebrated career?

BF-I have never really ranked my fights before. I have my favorites but none is more important as each win counts to another win.

DB- You have been with ONE Championship since mid-2013. What has it been like for you to see all of this promotional growth with ONE becoming a big influencer in the sport?

BF-One championship has changed the lives of many athletes and inspired those who thought they never had a chance. They put on an excellent and exciting show and I believe they will continue to grow all over the world. I’m proud to say I fight for them.

DB-What are your thoughts on getting to perform at Bangkok’s Impact Arena in front of the Thailand faithful?

BF-I’m excited to fight in Thailand, it’s a dream come true. The people love…Muay Thai. It’s a big part of their culture. I will give them an exciting show and make some history.

 Martin Nguyen:

DB-This is your third straight ONE Championship title fight with all bouts being in different weight classes. Has holding championships in three separate divisions simultaneously been a goal you’ve wanted to accomplish for a while now?

MN-It is every fighters dream to become a world champion let alone two possibly three. I always believed that hard work reaps rewards and having accomplished so much in little time. I now feel the belts are just an accessory and that showing my true potential through martial arts and changing people’s lives through my own journey has begun.

DB-You have competed at Lightweight and Featherweight but never Bantamweight. How is your weight situation heading into this first foray competing at 135lbs?

MN-My weight has never been an issue. When competing as featherweight I was always underweight by 2kg. With the right team and new-found discipline through dieting (stay strict). I am now at my designated fight weight for the bantamweight title.

DB-Does this fight take on special meaning for you being that it’s a compelling attraction with big pound for pound implications?

MN-My next upcoming fight with Bibiano is the most anticipated match up in my career. Bibiano has accomplished so much and has gained legendary athlete status. It’s an honor to be able to compete against someone of high caliber like himself.

DB-You have a six-fight win streak but Bibiano has six title defenses and has been one of the great 135ers in the world for several years. How do you ensure that Fernandes doesn’t reach that seventh title defense?

MN-We have trained for every aspect of this fight, worst case scenarios etc. Knowing both our fight styles, this fight isn’t going the distance that’s for sure. Come fight night, there will be no excuses and the real champion’s hand will be raised.

DB-What are your thoughts on getting to perform at Bangkok’s Impact Arena in front of the Thailand faithful?

MN-I’m so happy to be able to fight in Thailand for the first time in my career. I know how much the Thai community love their stand-up fighting and in saying that, it suits my style. I will definitely do whatever I can not only to entertain everyone but to get my hand raised.

The rest of the card

ONE: Iron Will also features a litany of engaging contests from top to bottom.

On paper, “The Situ-Asian” taking on “The Flash” is one of the sport’s most riveting lighter-weight bouts this calendar year.

One of the most popular fighters in the submission grappling world is finally crossing over into professional MMA as Garry Tonon makes his long-anticipated debut for ONE Championship.

The ever-entertaining Rika Ishige returns to the one Atomweight ranks and “Tinydoll” will bring her exciting, varied, finish heavy style.

Alain Ngalani is always one to watch as he brings power in his strikes that can stop any fight in the blink of an eye.

Muay Thai legend and multiple-time Lumpinee Stadium champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke returns to combat in the strawweight co-feature and looks to parlay his efforts training at Evolve into a successful rebound after losing his last fight.

Shannon Wiratchai will also return to the ONE cage and the entertaining Lightweight will undoubtedly get a warm reception as his fellow Thai compatriots cheer him on.

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