Fabricio de Andrade bolstered his bid to be the next bantamweight world title challenger in ONE Championship with a dominant body-shot knockout over Kwon Won Il at ONE 158. But, ONE bantamweight champion John Lineker is not convinced that the Brazilian upstart should be next in line.
The newly-minted titleholder admits his compatriot has skills, and that a fight between them would be a barnburner, but he thinks the young buck still needs to put in his time.
“Today, I am the champion,” Lineker told ONE. “That already answers your question. He’s a good fighter. I don’t belittle him in any way, but he still has a lot to learn.
“I believe it could be a great fight. A fight between two strikers is certainly very nice to see. It’s what fans like to watch, striking and punching all the time. If this fight against him happens, for sure, it will be a great show with a real chance of being ‘Fight of the Year.’”
Whether the champion believes he is ready or not, Andrade’s rise through the bantamweight division has been nothing short of spectacular. He is now 5-0 in ONE, with four finishes, and he recently claimed the second-ranked position in the rankings, a spot that belonged to his most recent conquest.
“Wonder Boy” has not been shy about labeling top contenders, and Lineker himself, as “chickens”, but he has backed up his harsh words with exciting victories time and again. The constant chatter doesn’t have an effect on Lineker, however. He has been around long enough to know when a fighter is trying to create hype, and he prefers to let his “Hands of Stone” do the talking.
“I’m getting used to this type of athlete who likes to promote fights by disrespecting opponents,” Lineker said. “It just goes to show that he’s a disrespectful guy to his opponents. He doesn’t have an ounce of education. He wants to promote fights in [the] wrong way.
“I don’t care about that. I like to respond inside the cage, in my own way, kicking ass. But if they think he’s worthy to fight for the belt, I’ll educate him, for sure.”
Despite his doubts, the ONE bantamweight champion undeniably has his countryman on his radar. And Lineker can’t help but break down Andrade’s game, even if he takes his success with a grain of salt.
“To be very honest, I started to follow Fabrício just recently,” said Lineker. “What I saw in this fight [against Kwon] is that he knows how to focus. He managed to impose his strategy. I wasn’t impressed because he got a knockout. That can happen in [any] fight, especially between strikers. He’s a good fighter, but he didn’t impress me at all.
“I don’t know if he did enough to earn a title shot. It’s not for me to say if he deserves a title shot. I’m prepared. I’m ready to fight anyone in the division. If ONE thinks he deserves it, I’m here waiting.”
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