SINGAPORE – Filipino Kevin Belingon waited for two years to get a crack at redemption against Bibiano Fernandes, and with higher stakes on the table, he got the result he had been aching for.
The Baguio City native reigned supreme as ONE Championship’s undisputed bantamweight king with a split decision win over the Brazilian in their title unification clash at the Singapore Indoor Stadium here on Friday, November 9.
Belingon showed he has vastly improved since his first-round submission loss to Fernandes for the belt in 2016 as he dominated the stand up battle and escaped all of the former titlist’s submission attempts.
“Bibiano is a very tough opponent, I really had a hard time beating him tonight,” said Belingon after the bout. “I respect him very much and it is an honor to fight such a tough fighter.”
The 31-year-old Belingon handed his foe his first loss in ONE history and snapped Fernandes’ 14-fight winning streak that spanned for more than 7 years.
He extended his winning streak to 7 fights to improve to a 20-5 record and become the third undisputed world champion from the famed Team Lakay.
“I know Bibiano is very tough but I think I deserve this victory,” he added. “The game plan was to knock him out. We saw [a weakness] in his previous fight. I kept on giving him everything, but he has good defense.”
Persistent not to let the fight go on the ground, Belingon did damage with multiple spinning back kicks to the body throughout and sent Fernandes wobbling with a solid right punch to the head in the 3rd round.
Fernandes had plenty of chances to stop the bout behind his prolific ground game after having his foe on the verge of an armbar in the 4th round but Belingon was quick to slither out and get up.
The 38-year-old Brazilian, who is considered the most dominant champion in ONE history, fell to 22-4 as he saw his five-year reign as bantamweight king come to a screeching halt.
Meanwhile, Belingon joins strawweight champion Joshua Pacio, lightweight flyweight titleholder Geje Estaquio and heavyweight king Brandon Vera as undisputed Filipino champions. – Rappler.com
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