Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Bibiano Fernandes: Family matters

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Bibiano Fernandes: Family matters
by rick olivares

He is punctual to say the least. This is a world champion hear taking the time out of his busy schedule to call long distance from Seattle to Manila and he’s apologizing to call at 7am in the morning.

“I am sorry about yesterday, my friend,” Bibiano Fernandes starts off. We were supposed to chat via Facebook the previous day but there was a mix up in schedules. “I hope now it is okay.”

Of course, it is. This is a Mixed Martial Arts champion right here!

To know Bibiano Fernandes is to know that his family takes precedence before anything else. It’s been over four months since he fought inside the cage and Fernandes has been busy teaching and coaching MMA in Canada while raising his three children, Elijah, Gabriel, and Lucas. “I like doing the daddy things,” he says so proudly that you could almost hear his heart beating with pride. “My children are the best thing I have ever done and that includes my fighting career.”

As a youngster in Manaus, Brazil, Bibiano was left to fend for himself when his mother passed away. He did a variety of odd jobs just to survive before he found salvation and his way out of poverty in learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. And now, he refuses to see his children go down that same path that he did. “A lot of people fight for greatness,” he explains. “Yes, I want that too. But I fight for my children’s future. That’s what it is all about. I see that man in the ring in front of me and I think, ‘he’s trying to stop me from providing for my kids.’ That’s different, man. That’s different. But you have to be smart. You cannot win all the time. You cannot fight all the time. So you look for a good business to get into. That’s where you invest.”

All that time while he was foraging for food back in Brazil? Fernandes never forgot life’s hard lessons and choices, and he carries that with him wherever he goes.

After his fight with Gustavo Falciroli in One FC: Pride of a Nation, Fernandes took on Yoshiro Maeda in Dream 18 last December in Saitama, Japan.

Maeda is slightly older than Fernandes but has more than doubled the Brazilian’s fight record of 13-3 with a slate of 30-12-2. “Japanese fighters are very technical in nature; very skillful. You have to be careful and be superior to them in that aspect.”

Fernandes quickly pounced on the Japanese fighter and forced him to submit with 1:46 left after planting a triangle choke on him.

He trains in Seattle because it’s near his home in Vancouver, British Columbia. “It rains a lot,” he says but not as a complaint. “You have to adapt of situations in hot weather or in cold. Everything. I have to block out everything and focus. No excuses.”

Fernandes is now focusing on his return bout in Manila, in One FC: Rise to Power against another Japanese fighter in Shooto featherweight Koetsu Okazaki (7-2).

“It will be good to return to Manila,” cheerily says the Brazilian. “Living now in Canada, it’s different. Manila reminds me of Brazil. And I love how the people accepted me and cheered for me. It will be good to fight in front of Filipinos again.”

He isn’t worried about the ring rust after all, he trains continuously. “I do not take Okazaki lightly. He’s a good stand up fighter. Good skills and good striking power. But he is standing between me and my family.”

Oh oh. Fernandes is seeing red again. For sure, One FC: Rise to Power is going to see some heavy fireworks.

ONE Fighting Championship returns to Manila on Friday, 31 May, with the explosive One FC: Rise to Power at the Mall of Asia Arena featuring the highly anticipated first title defense of hometown hero ONE FC Featherweight World Champion Honorio “The Rock” Banario. Banario will put it all on the line when he takes on Japanese submission specialist Koji Oishi. Plus, pound-for-pound king Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes returns to the famed ONE FC cage when he squares off against Japanese MMA sensation Koetsu Okazaki for the ONE FC Bantamweight Interim Title. All the action will take place at the 20,000-seater SM Mall of Asia Arena in what is expected to be the greatest fight card ever compiled in ONE FC history. After selling out arenas throughout Asia it is finally time for ONE FC to return to the Philippines.


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