Vastly-improved Kevin Belingon guns for ONE bantamweight belt

Delfin Dioquino
The Filipino can exact revenge on Bibiano Fernandes as they meet again in a title unification bout

BEST OF THE BEST. Filipino Kevin Belingon (right) and Brazilian Bibiano Fernandes lock horns to settle who is ONE Championship's bantamweight king. Photo from ONE Championship

SINGAPORE – Filipino Kevin Belingon isn’t at all fazed by Brazilian Bibiano Fernandes’ champion status, especially now that he knows he’s only gone better since their last ONE bantamweight showdown. 

Belingon, the interim titlist, seeks vengeance against division king Fernandes when they figure in a title unification bout in the ONE: Heart of Lion at the Singapore Indoor Stadium here on Friday, November 9. 

The Brazilian is considered ONE’s most dominant champion in history after having gone undefeated since joining the promotion. That, though, doesn’t scare the Team Lakay standout. 

I’m physically, mentally, emotionally [and] spiritually ready sa laban na ‘to. Pinaghirapan ko ‘tong match na to so I’ll do my best to win the fight,” he told Filipino reporters here. 

(I’m physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually ready for this fight. I worked hard for this match so I’ll do my best to win the fight.) 

The first time the two met in 2016, the bout didn’t go Belingon’s way as he succumbed to a first-round submission that paved way for another successful title defense for Fernandes, who boasts an impressive 25-3 record. 

But after that sorry defeat, Belingon (24-5) has since risen to the top, racking up 6 straight wins in a span of two years.

He claimed the interim belt in July with a unanimous decision win over Martin Nguyen to set up a rematch with Fernandes, this time, to unify the two titles. 

“‘Yung huling laban namin, parang Grade 1 lang ‘yung skills ko sa jiu jitsu. This time, maganda ‘yung skills ko sa jiu jitsu,” he said. “Mataas na. Grade 100 na.” 

(When we first fought, my jiu jitsu skills were at Grade 1. This time, it’s gone higher. It’s now Grade 100.) 

After ng laban namin noon, talagang na-challenge ako i-improve ‘yung weaknesses ko kaya ‘yun, nagtuloy tuloy ‘yung panalo. Gusto kong makuha ‘yung undisputed bantamweight belt.” 

(After our first fight, I was really challenged to improve on my weaknesses, that’s why the wins piled up. I want to win the undisputed bantamweight belt.) 

Aside from getting redemption, Belingon also relishes the chance of becoming the third undisputed champion from the famed Team Lakay stable. 

His stablemates Geje Estaquio and Joshua Pacio currently hold the flyweight and strawweight titles, respectively. 

Naka-ilang belt na ‘yung Team Lakay tapos siyempre sa akin, nacha-challenge ako sa mga teammates ko kasi nakuha nila ‘yung titles nila. Nakakadagdag sa confidence ko para sa laban na ‘to.” 

(Team Lakay has won a lot of titles so I feel challenged to get my own. Their triumph only adds confidence in my upcoming fight.) – Rappler.com

Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.