Fabricio “Wonder Boy” Andrade came agonizingly close to winning the bantamweight crown at ONE Fight Night 3 last October, but later this month, he will have a second chance to capture the gold.
Andrade and the former divisional kingpin, John Lineker, will resume their heated rivalry and meet for the vacant ONE bantamweight world title in the main event of ONE Fight Night 7, which broadcasts live from Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand, on Friday, February 24.
The pair’s first collision was met with fight-of-the-night expectations, and the world championship showdown lived up to the hype.
As the two tussled, it was Andrade who landed the cleaner, sharper combinations as he grew further into the contest. But just when “Wonder Boy” looked to have the Brazilian brawler on the ropes, an inadvertent strike to Lineker’s groin would force an end to the contest.
The anticlimactic finish not only frustrated fans, but it also bothered the 25-year-old, who felt his biggest challenge was on the brink of being conquered. This time around, though, Andrade feels his handiwork will pay dividends.
“He will definitely prepare more now that he knows how good I am,” said Andrade, who also happens to be ONE Championship’s #1-ranked bantamweight contender.
“But I believe this will not make a difference. Three months of training will not make him become another athlete. I know how he fights, he knows how I fight, and that won’t change for the rematch.”
Despite the abrupt close to last year’s encounter, the confidence that the Tiger Muay Thai representative took from the contest has made his current training camp a playground to flourish.
The taller and lankier Andrade believes that he will not only be the better of the two physically, but he also thinks he will carry a mental advantage into the hotly anticipated rematch.
“I think the fact that I came very close to ending the fight, that he was badly hurt in the fight, and that I defended all his attempts on the ground, makes a difference in the psychological factor,” Andrade said.
“He knows I’m better than him. His chance of winning this fight is if something extraordinary happens. But we know that I’m the best athlete, that this is my moment, and that I’m going to be the champion.
“This fight will end in a maximum of two rounds. And it will definitely end with me knocking out John Lineker one more time.”
But Andrade also wants his Brazilian compatriot to be at his best so there are no excuses when the bell rings, and that includes winning his battle with the scale, which is something that has previously haunted “Hands of Stone.”
Initially, Lineker entered ONE Fight Night 3 event week as the ONE bantamweight champion. However, his inability to make weight – an issue that plagued him multiple times during his UFC run – once again entered the spotlight.
After exceeding the weight limit for his first world title defense, “Hands of Stone” was stripped of the belt, leaving Andrade the only competitor eligible to win the gold.
This time around, however, “Wonder Boy” expects Lineker to hold his end of the deal.
“[Lineker] will definitely be more attentive with this weight issue,” Andrade said. “Nobody likes to be on time and not make weight. No one wants to look unprofessional. So, I believe he will be aware of his weight so that it doesn’t happen again.”
Even if his countryman were to miss weight again, it wouldn’t deter the young Tiger Muay Thai product from his mission.
“That doesn’t interfere with anything. I’m not worried about that,” he added. “If he doesn’t make weight again, we’re going to fight anyway, and I’m going to knock him out.”