Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon is actually a legit ONE Championship titleholder along with Joshua Pacio and Geje Eustaquio. Counting Stephen Loman, who has a Brave Combat Federation variety, they make four Team Lakay champions.
Yet, Belingon’s title seems to be lacking the luster that the other three have.
Probably because his is of the interim kind.
That may change on Friday, November 9, 2018, as he is set to challenge Bibiano Fernandes for the undisputed Bantamweight World Championship, a long-waited rematch, during ONE: Heart of the Lion in Singapore.
It is no secret that Belingon wants to snatch the “real” crown from “The Flash” Fernades, widely considered one of the best martial artists in the world.
Both men shared the cage the first time at ONE: DYNASTY OF CHAMPIONS, in Changsha, China in January 2016 where Fernandes retained his title via a first-round submission.
Belingon has since been on a warpath back to world title contention, putting together a sensational six-bout win streak which includes huge knockout wins over several former world title challengers, with the likes of Toni Tauru, Reece ‘Lightning’ McLaren, Andrew Leone, and Martin Nguyen for the interim Bantamweight title.
He won three of those matches by knockout and three by unanimous decision.
This rematch was actually set moments before he obliterated Andrew Leone in two rounds in the main event of Heroes of Honor last April.
It was later revealed by ONE after the match that Belingon had a standing offer of a rematch against Fernandes that was all but guaranteed before the bout.
All Belingon had to do then was wait for Fernandes to recover from injury for the bout to happen.
Belingon stated he treasures this rematch in an interview with ONE.
“I’ve waited a long time for this moment, ever since I lost to Bibiano the first time. This is without a doubt the most important match of my career,” the 31-year-old Belingon stated.
In all his seriousness for challenging for the crown, Belingon showed he could take all comers while Fernandes was on the mend.
After dominating high-caliber opponents in Toni Tauru, Reece McLaren, Kevin Chung, and Andrew Leone over a two-year span and earning the title shot, he agreed to take on then-ONE Featherweight and Lightweight World Champion “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen for the Bantamweight interim title.
“The Silencer” proved he is the rightful man to challenge the Brazilian for the unification of the bantamweight belts by coming out with a brilliant unanimous decision win at ONE: REIGN OF KINGS in July this year.
“I didn’t have to fight Martin the last time. My title fight against Bibiano was already guaranteed then, but I wanted to prove to the world that I never back down from any challenge and that I always rise to the occasion,” Belingon explains in the same interview.
“Claiming the interim title has been one of the most important highlights of my career. The only thing that can beat that now is if I am able to successfully unify the titles. That’s priority number one for me, and I am laser-focused on making that happen.”
The loss to Fernandes is a memory that has haunted “The Silencer” and his head coach at Team Lakay, Mark Sangiao.
“I admit, when we first fought Bibiano, Kevin was still a little green,” Sangiao says.
The duo, however, made improvements in Belingon’s takedown defense and how to keep most bouts standing, where he could maximize the use of his strikes, one of the best in the business.
“I think this time around, things will be different because I am more prepared for what he brings to the table,” Belingon says.
Belingon carries a 19-5 win-loss record going in the fight to Fernandes’ 22-3.
By: ARMANDO M. BOLISLIS