Former ONE bantamweight world champion John “Hands of Stone” Lineker and No.1 contender Fabricio “Wonder Boy” Andrade are set for their sequel this Friday, February 24, and given the history between the two men, it’s clear that the division isn’t big enough for the both of them.
Following last October’s no-contest ruling, the Brazilian sluggers will meet in the ONE Fight Night 7 main event to settle the score with the division’s vacant crown up for grabs.
The pair have firmly been on each other’s radar since before their initial meeting last year, and there’s certainly no love lost between them as the rematch nears. And though the two show nothing but disdain for one another, the paths they’ve shared en route to the catastrophic collision do hold some similarities.
Both entered the inaugural meeting on hot streaks – Lineker capped his four-bout winning run by dethroning longtime divisional king Bibiano Fernandes, while his compatriot earned seven straight victories, finishing every opponent but two.
The mighty streaks, as well as their nationality and love for the KO, were the only similarities shared between the two, as the exciting encounter propped up a battle between the seasoned veteran and the surging new arrival.
Full of youth, confidence, and momentum, Andrade repeatedly took aim toward his fellow Brazilian on social media, removing the “Hands of Stone” moniker to label him a “chicken,” accusing him of ducking the fight. Lineker, as stoic as ever, preferred to let his handiwork do the talking.
The stage was set in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on October 21 for a festival of fisticuffs between the two scrappers, and in an all-out war that lived up to the hype placed upon it, it was the 25-year-old proving good on his word for two and a half rounds.
However, destiny would have to wait. Just as Andrade looked to have suckered Lineker in for the finish, an inadvertent strike hit the former World Champion’s groin and rendered him unable to continue.
A no contest ruling was made final, and after Lineker had been stripped of the ONE bantamweight world title earlier that week for failing to make weight, the divisional belt was left to be claimed for another night.
Had the match ensued past what appeared to be a pivotal moment for Andrade has continued to be a rampant debate ever since. Many believe “Wonder Boy” was on the brink of reaching his destiny, while others, including Lineker himself, insist he wasn’t out of the fight.
This time around, however, it’s a much different battle.
The experience of having already gone to war with your nemesis provides incredible lessons and makes the second meeting that much tighter. Last October, the two danced into the unknown. This time, they know the enemy.
In just a few short days, the prolonged affair will finally reach its pinnacle as fans in Lumpinee Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand – as well as the North American primetime audience – watch in awe as the dust around the dispute settles.
The rivalry has been arguably the fiercest and most ferocious feud in the promotion’s recent history, and only time will tell which Brazilian will reap the rewards.