On Thursday, ONE Fighting Championship (ONE FC) proudly announced the signing of Dream bantamweight champion Bibiano Fernandes and lightweight champion Shinya Aoki. Both fighters were standouts from Dream and were the last champions in their respective weight classes.
We take a look at possible opponents for the duo, who are set to make their respective debuts in ONE FC: Pride of a Nation in Manila on August 31st.
Japanese Shinya Aoki is a submission specialist who is opportunistic with his submissions. Boasting a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, 19 of his 30 wins have come via submission. However, he is coming to ONE FC following a TKO loss to Eddie Alvarez in April.
It would make sense for Shinya Aoki to face Zorobabel Moreira in the main event. Brazilian Moreira is coming off a knockout victory over ex-UFC fighter Roger Huerta via soccer kick. He is riding a five-fight winning streak, also defeating notables Felipe Enomoto and Andy Wang.
The only issue with a Moreira and Aoki bout is that they both train out of Singapore-based Evolve and might be hesitant about fighting a teammate. Perhaps debuting a lightweight championship and giving the fighters the opportunity to be the first ONE FC lightweight champion might be enough for them to accept the fight.
Another alternative opponent would be Ole Laursen. An accomplished kick-boxer, Laursen always puts on exciting fights such as his five-round war against Eduard Folayang in his last outing. Born in the Phillipines, he would have the support of the hometown crowd behind him in what would essentially a boxer vs. grappler match.
Bibiano Fernandes is the first, and only, Bantamweight Champion of Dream.
In Dream's last card on New Year's Eve last year, he defeated both Rodolfo Marques and Antonio Banuelos on the same night to be crowned champion. Hailing from Brazil and now fighting out of Canada, he is nicknamed "the flash" for his lightning-fast speed that has helped him defeat Joachim Hansen and Joe Warren, among others.
Two notable names stand out from the rest in ONE FC's bantamweight division.
Kevin Belingon is the URCC Flyweight Champion and has a record of 9-1. Training out of Team Lakay in the Philippines, Belingon will prove a tough test for Fernandes. The other notable is Leonardo Issa. Issa defeated Masakazu Imanari in last Saturday's ONE FC: Destiny of Warriors. A BJJ world champion, he displayed solid wrestling skills and a smart game plan to defeat Imanari via decision. With a record of 9-2, he is coming off a win, whereas Belingon lost to the aforementioned Imanari last March.
Both Fernandes and Aoki are huge additions to ONE FC's growing stable of fighters, and it will be exciting to see how they fare on August 31st.