Everything seemed to be going as according to plan.
In early June, It was announced that Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) had signed former DREAM 135-pound champion Bibiano Fernandes to fight inside the Octagon. According to the reports, "The Flash" was supposed to take Roland Delorme at UFC 149 in Calgary, Alberta, on July 21, 2012.
No big deal. Just another one of the many big Zuffa acquisitions. Business as usual.
Except, things went south, about a week later, when Fernandes made the somewhat shocking revelation that he had negotiated with the UFC, but never signed a deal. To add insult to injury, Fernandes then declared that, not only was he not going to be signing with the UFC, but that he would, in fact, be signing a deal with the Asian mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion, ONE FC.
It was all a whirlwind, and it was unclear as to why Fernandes would dare to reject an offer with the biggest MMA organization in the world.
Fernandes sat down with Tatame.com to discuss his new deal, as well as everything that went down with the UFC.
The first thing he wanted to address was his reason for saying no to Zuffa. His story is a little unclear, but what he wanted to make known, is that it ultimately came down to pursuing his dreams.
For some, fighting in the Octagon is the ultimate fantasy. Not so for Fernandes:
"Apart from family, it'd be a great opportunity for me, but when you put the family in the picture, it's not worth it. I don't fight for me. I have people who rely on me. I've built what I had to build in MMA. It can be many people's dream to fight in the UFC, but it ain't mine. It's all business to me. I've dreamed about being a champion. I earned three belts: one in Canada and two in Japan. If you have a dream, keep dreaming. If you want to fight, keep on trying. But this I'll tell you: worship yourself, otherwise nobody else will. And it's not only on the fighting business, but in everything in life. People use you, use you, use you and them through you away like garbage."
Essentially, Fernandes' decision seems to be one of sticking what he knows and staying in his comfort zone. In a lot of ways, he feels that his new home, ONE FC, reminds him of his old DREAM stomping grounds:
"I've fought all my life in Japan. Most of my fans live there. I guess ONE FC is just an extension of DREAM. It's not DREAM, but the guys there have been helping one another at ONE FC. If you really look at it, you'll see the guys that used to work on DREAM here. ONE FC is ONE FC. They hired the good employees from DREAM. They picked some people up and brought into their organization. I guess it's gonna grow. Actually, I'm pretty sure of it. I believe in them."
Fernandes is said to be making his promotional debut on Aug. 31, 2012, along with fellow new signee Shinya Aoki. At this point, it's yet to be determined who Fernandes' opponent will be, but he's confident that he'll be successful, regardless:
"Oh man, I've fought the toughest guys from both feather and bantamweights. I'll welcome whoever they ask me to fight against. Let's go to war."
Finally, Fernandes explained why he feels confident ONE FC is going to be a huge success in Asia. However, he's honest about the fact that he doesn't believe ONE FC can compete with the UFC, in any way, shape or form:
"It's an event that needs to be watched, needs to grow too because that way the competition comes. UFC's going to win it all. There's no competition, none whatsoever. Even at my weight class, and I hope they hire good fighters in other classes too, but in all light divisions so things are balanced."
As the Aug. 31 date approaches, MMAmania.com will be prompt with information regarding fight lineups and rumors regarding the ONE FC card which will reportedly be headline by Ole Laursen, will feature the debuts of Fernandes and Aoki, and will take place from the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Manila, Philippines.