This Sunday, 13 October, Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes returns to the ring for his fourth bout against Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon at ONE: CENTURY PART II in Tokyo, Japan.
The Brazilian has overcome adversity and hardship in his journey to become a World Champion, and he owes much of his mental fortitude and resilience to his first coach, Ulisses Paixão.
Fernandes started practicing “the gentle art” at the age of 14 and became quickly enthralled with the sport’s positive impact.
Despite doing his best to fund his hobby by washing cars, he did not make enough money and struggled to pay the gym fees.
“When I started training, I had no money to pay for the gym, but I loved jiu-jitsu. I learned that it gave me something inside – discipline, and seeing life in a different way,” he explained.
Fortunately, Paixão recognized Fernandes’ passion and talent for the sport. He offered a simple arrangement that allowed “The Flash” to continue honing his skills at the gym.
“I told him, ‘Coach, I don’t have any more money to pay the gym.’ He said, ‘Come train, clean the gym, and when people leave, turn out the lights and lock it up.’ I loved jiu-jitsu, and this was how I was able to continue my training.”
At the time, the Brazilian did not think much of this and saw it as a simple exchange of his time for the mat fees. Only many years after did he realize that his pact with coach Paixão had a great impact on his martial arts career and helped pave the way for his success.
“He was a very tough coach and he made you work hard in training, but he was a good man, and what he gave me was an opportunity,” Fernandes said. “You have to believe you will succeed. If you don’t believe it, success won’t be there for you. So I believed.”
The ONE Bantamweight World Champion excelled in competition and training, but the success he enjoyed never got to his head. In many ways, his humble beginnings in the gym helped keep him grounded.
Furthermore, his daily routine of mopping the mats after every session not only imbued in him discipline, it kept him in the gym.
“It taught me to be humble, and it taught me the value of hard work – doing what you need to do to get the things you want,” said Fernandes.
“My friends were going out and doing different things while I had to stay and turn off the lights and lock the doors every night in the gym. Because of this, I stayed focused, and I was the one that became a BJJ World Champion.”
As “The Flash” continued to develop his skills, his passion for teaching also grew. He got his first opportunity at coaching when the gym entrusted him to teach some of the kids’ classes.
Once they recognized his exceptional skills were meant for greater things, they relieved him of his cleaning responsibilities and allowed him to focus entirely on coaching and training.
“I started to teach the kids, and I made a lot of champions. My coach put his trust in me to do that. He was a very good coach with good knowledge, and he helped me with this,” he explained.
While he has racked up numerous accolades, including the ONE Bantamweight World Title, Fernandes never strayed from his roots and is eternally grateful for the opportunity Coach Paixão gave him.
Fernandes now strives to live life in a manner that honors the values he learned from “the gentle art.”
“Now, I have a good life. I do not have to clean the mats of the gym to train, but it taught me good lessons that made me a better person,” Fernandes said.
“I learned to be strong and not to complain about life. People complain about everything – not me! I’m just thankful. I see the opportunity in everything today.”
Catch all the action and more at ONE: CENTURY, the biggest World Championship martial arts event in history.
The Home Of Martial Arts breaks new ground as it features 28 World Champions, four World Title bouts, three World Grand Prix Championship Finals, and four World Champion versus World Champion matches.
The action happens at the famous Ryogoku Kokugikan on 13 October in Tokyo, Japan.
Also, the show will air later in the evening via special delay on CH 5 at 11:00pm SGT.
Read More From ONE Championship: