Bibiano Fernandes, the former ONE bantamweight champion and a stalwart of the MMA world, has parted ways with ONE Championship, leaving a trail of insights and advice for aspiring fighters considering a stint in the promotion.
In a candid conversation with MMA Fighting, Fernandes opened up about the circumstances surrounding his departure. He revealed that despite his remarkable track record and dedication to the company for 11 years, ONE notified him that they wouldn't be renewing his contract.
While Fernandes admitted he wasn't angered by the decision, he did express a sense of disappointment, believing he could have been offered more fights during his tenure, especially considering his three-year absence from the cage.
Reflecting on his journey with ONE, Fernandes emphasized the organizational priorities, stating,
"I'm a mixed martial arts fighter but they’re doing business. They only think about business, you know?"
The Brazilian fighter refrained from delving into specifics due to contractual clauses that limit his ability to speak openly about certain aspects of his time at ONE. However, he offered a strong piece of advice to fellow athletes, cautioning them to carefully consider joining ONE Championship.
"If you're a fighter and you're thinking about fighting for ONE Championship, brother, think twice before you decide to go there," Fernandes warned earnestly. "You have to be very careful. Athletes have to think before — you want to fight there? Go, brother, but there's a moment in life where you have to make decisions about whether or not this is what you really want."
Fernandes also shed light on promises made by the organization, including a desk job after retiring from the sport, which was retracted. These broken commitments and disagreements regarding management became points of contention for the fighter during his time with ONE.
Amidst the challenges and unresolved issues, Fernandes acknowledged a sense of relief upon parting ways. He remains resolute in continuing his martial arts journey, currently focusing on operating his jiu-jitsu gym in Canada, leaving the door slightly ajar for a potential return to the MMA stage.
As the dust settles on Fernandes' departure from ONE Championship, his departure stands as a cautionary tale, reminding fighters to navigate contractual agreements cautiously and to advocate for their interests in the world of professional fighting.