Undisputed ONE Bantamweight World Champion Kevin Belingon is ready to settle the score with Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes on March 31 at ONE: A NEW ERA at the Ryōgoku Kokugikan. The two athletes are tied in their series with a win each.
The pair first met back in January 2016 when Fernandes was able to successfully defend his ONE Bantamweight World Title against the Filipino by way of submission in the first round. The loss motivated Belingon to pursue another title shot and he won six straight matches after that on his climb back up the ladder.
The Baguio City native’s hard work paid off when he was given second chance to challenge “The Flash” for the World Title in November 2018, where he was able to outperform the Brazilian by a very thin margin at ONE: HEART OF THE LION, and was crowned as the undisputed ONE Bantamweight World Champion.
“It feels good to be on such a nice little win streak. 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,” Belingon said.
“I feel as confident now as I have ever been. Heading into my next bout, a trilogy bout against Bibiano [Fernandes], this is super important. I have to be at my best in this next bout.”
Despite the rivalry between two of the best bantamweights in the promotion, Belingon still holds his opponent up on a pedestal and acknowledges the former World Champion’s accomplishments.
Fernandes held a 14-bout winning streak prior to his rematch with Belingon where the Team Lakay stalwart had to prove himself for five whole rounds.
“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.”
It’s been four months since Kevin Belingon captured the ONE Bantamweight World Title. And since then, he hasn’t stopped pushing himself to make sure that his improved skills will grant him another victory against the man he admires and respects.
“Everything that I got, I had to work hard for,” Belingon concluded.
“I can see why he is so well-respected and revered. 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.”
Catch Kevin Belingon and Bibiano Fernandes’ trilogy fight on B/R Live on March 31.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 3/12/2019.