Reigning and defending ONE Bantamweight World Champion Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon of the Philippines and Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes of Brazil will meet for the third time at the Ryōgoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan on March 31, 2019 at ONE: A NEW ERA. Training of Team Lakay, the defending champion first challenged the Brazilian back on January 23, 2016 for the title but failed in his bid to capture gold.
Belingon refused to accept his fate, so he began the long journey back to the top by winning six straight bouts against ONE Championship’s top contenders and his streak earned him another chance to meet Fernandes in a rematch on November 9, 2019. The Team Lakay fighter’s hard work proved enough for him be crowned the undisputed ONE Bantamweight World Champion by a razor thin margin.
“It feels good to be on such a nice little win streak,” Belingon stated. “It just goes to show that my hard work and long hours at the gym is paying off. That’s all we really want out of training, is for the hard work to show.”
“I feel as confident now as I have ever been,” Belingon added. “Heading into my next bout, a trilogy bout against Bibiano, this is super important. I have to be at my best in this next bout.”
Belingon is not taking this trilogy bout lightly as he clearly recalls how the AMC Pankration representative gave him one of the most unforgettable 25 minutes of his life. This made the Filipino champion respect and acknowledge his Brazilian opponent even more.
“I have all the respect in the world for Bibiano,” Belingon said. “He is a tremendous athlete and he has all the skills to prove just that. He is also an amazing strategist and very smart in the cage. He’s a veteran and it is very hard to deal with that experience. He put up a great performance last time and made it difficult for me to get any sort of advantage.”
The reigning ONE Bantamweight World Champion is confident he can defend his title successfully. This is the result of hard work and sacrifice for the past three years but he knows all too well that this match will be the toughest of all their encounters so far.
After all, Belingon is about to face a legendary World Champion whom he holds in high regard. He said, “Everything that I got, I had to work hard for.”
“I can see why he is so well-respected and revered,” Belingon said of Fernandes. “He’s a legendary World Champion after all. But I was able to show him also how much I have improved, which is why I got the victory.”
Meanwhile, watch Belingon’s signature Ifugao dance ring walkout here: