John “Hands of Stone” Lineker finally captured a world title when he knocked out Bibiano Fernandes to take the longtime bantamweight king’s strap earlier this year. Now, the dangerous Brazilian striker is gearing up for his first defense of the coveted gold.
Lineker will return to the ONE Championship Circle to face surging phenom Fabricio de Andrade in the main event of ONE on Prime Video 3 next Friday, Oct. 21, at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Andrade has been one of the sport’s fastest-rising stars over the past year. His unbeaten run in ONE has earned him a shot at the title, and no one will be counting him out when he takes it.
With a young in-form challenger, who is chocked full of confidence, making demands at your belt, some champions would retreat into their shells. But that’s not John Lineker.
Lineker is adamant that holding the world title will not make him buckle under pressure. Fans are guaranteed to see the same hungry fighter and exciting action they have come to know and love from the Brazilian bruiser.
“There is no added pressure to fight or win now that I am champion. The next fight will be just another fight, another challenge in my career, like the previous fights. Of course, now as champion, but without pressure,” Lineker said. “In fact, my fighting style, my aggression when I get in the cage, is natural. That’s what I do every day. It’s all natural, I don’t invent anything, don’t do anything different in the fight than I do in training.
“Of course, with each fight we evolve and, naturally, we become more cautious and conservative, but I don’t feel any pressure. I won’t hold back because now I’m the champion. I’m going to get in the cage and I’m going to do what I know how to do best, which is to put on a show and go forward all the time. I’m focused on that, on putting on a show for the fans.”
Andrade has been relentless in calling for the very best the bantamweight division has on offer since arriving in ONE. And once he got Lineker in his sights, the Brazilian upstart doubled down on his trash talk and continuously chipped away at his compatriot. Perhaps most notably calling Lineker a “chicken.”
But those words haven’t seemed to phase the new bantamweight king. Lineker finds humor in what Andrade has been doing, even if it is not his preferred method of promoting a bout. The crafty veteran even sees how he can use it to his advantage ahead of their highly anticipated main event.
“It doesn’t bother me at all. If that’s the way he likes to promote fights — I like to show it on top of the cage, I don’t like to keep talking. But I can take chicken and use it positively, as if he was calling me a fighting cock, that big rooster [laughs],” Lineker said.
With his focus solely on retaining the gold inside the Circle, it is unsurprising that Lineker envisions a finish. And why not? That has been his calling card throughout his career.
Lineker has built his reputation on crippling body blows and jaw-adjusting knockouts, and at ONE on Prime Video 3, he plans to provide a little attitude adjustment to his junior competitor.
“This fight will definitely have a lot of striking, and it will be very exciting. He’s going to want to kick me a lot and come in with his knee, but I’m prepared for anything, both striking and on the ground. I see myself finishing him off in the third round,” he said.
ONE on Prime Video 3 airs at 8 p.m. ET on Friday, Oct. 21.
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