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Fab Andrade wins ONE Bantamweight title

Fab Andrade wins ONE Bantamweight title

MMA: After five gruelling years on the island, training with some of the world’s top fighting talent, Phuket-based Fabricio Andrade has finally laid claim to the ONE Championship Bantamweight title.

By Jean-Pierre Mestanza

Saturday 4 March 2023, 12:00PM

An emotional Fabricio with the ONE Championship Bantamweight belt. Photo: ONE Championship

An emotional Fabricio with the ONE Championship Bantamweight belt. Photo: ONE Championship

The 25-year-old Brazilian made his mark in one of the top fight promotions on the planet with a stirring performance in the main event of ‘ONE Fight Night 7’ in Bangkok’s famed Lumpinee Stadium last Saturday (Feb 25) against his fellow countryman John ‘Hands of Stone’ Lineker (35-10) to take his record to 9-2.

The visible results of Andrade’s performance were seen on his opponent’s face, as Lineker’s coaches threw in the towel just after the fourth round due to their fighter’s inability to keep his eyes open.

As the referee waved his hands in the air to bring an end to the fight, Andrade celebrated and jumped onto the corner of the ring much to the delight of the thousands in attendance.

Andrade, who has called Phuket his home for just over five years, is now the fifth bantamweight champion in the 65kg weight classification since the inception of ONE Championship in 2011. The win is a sweet ending to a two-fight saga with Lineker after their first title fight was declared a ‘no contest’ due to an illegal knee strike to the groin at ‘ONE on Prime Video 3’ in October of last year in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

“I have no words to explain what this means to me,” Andrade said through tears of joy after he was awarded the title. “It’s been just such a long journey, so many hard things that I’ve been through in my life, with the dream to get here and become the world champion - and to be able to change my life and my family’s life, it’s unbelievable, I don’t know how to explain what I’m feeling right now.”

Wonder Boy’

Andrade, who fights out of Chalong’s Tiger Muay Thai and MMA Training Camp, was able to win the title in the seventh fight for the promotion, and his 11th overall. ‘Wonder Boy’ made his debut for ONE Championship in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, back in July 2020, with a victory over Mark Abelardo, also in Bangkok.

In the win over Lineker, Andrade was simply a step ahead in almost every exchange and was able to throw a variety of attacks - from knee strikes up the middle to hard counterstrikes and kicks. Andrade had Lineker on wobbly legs at the end of the first round following a strong right hand to the head.

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However, unlike their first meeting in October, in which Andrade was able to clearly land a hail of punches, Lineker stayed composed. In the ensuing rounds of Saturday’s fight, he was hunting for Andrade’s head, and clearly showed a willingness to give as much as he took. Ultimately, Andrade’s attacks were too much, and Lineker’s corner brought an end to the fight before the final round.

Still, Andrade gave credit where it was due.

“The first fight [Lineker] was scared, but this fight, he came to fight,” Andrade stated. “As you can see I got a lot of damage. It was a good fight, and he made it difficult work to hold this belt right now.”

But Andrade’s warrior spirit carried him to victory.

“I was like ‘there’s no way I’m walking out here without this belt, I’m going to win this fight, with all costs’ and that’s why I’m so overwhelmed now to be able to hold this belt and be called the world champion right now,” he said.

As for what’s next for the Brazilian, he says he’s ready to defend the title against up-and-coming contender Stephen Loman from the Philippines, who is currently ranked number 2 in the division and is on an 11-fight win streak.

“We already got a contender in line. Loman, you want this, come get it,” Andrade said in his post-fight speech.

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