In November of 2018, Bibiano Fernandes and Kevin Belingon went to war for the ONE Championship bantamweight belt. After five, frenzied rounds of action, Belingon was awarded a razor close decision victory, ending Fernandes’ longstanding reign as the ONE bantamweight king in the process.
On Sunday night in Tokyo, Japan (Sunday morning in North America), at ONE: A New Era, Kevin Belingon and Bibiano Fernandes met again. This time around, it was Fernandes vying for Belingon’s belt. Because the pair also fought in 2016, with Fernandes winning by first-round submission, this bout marked the tie-breaking of their riveting trilogy.
The first round of this rematch was a doozy. Kevin Belingon first rocked Bibiano Fernandes with a massive punch, and moments later, Fernandes returned fire, nearly finishing the champion with strikes before landing a takedown riding out the rest of the round on the mat.
The second round was much more measured. Both men stuck to their bread and butter, with Belingon landing a few of his patented spin kicks, and Fernandes ultimately dragging the action to the mat.
Unfortunately things took a terrible turn at the beginning of the third, as Bibiano Fernandes grounded the action, and Kevin Belingon landed several inadvertent but illegal elbows to the back of the challenger’s head, forcing a brief pause in the action. When Bibiano Fernandes could not continue, Kevin Belingon was disqualified. This meant that the title was returned to the former champion — though he was unwilling to accept the belt under these unfortunate circumstances.
All signs point to a fourth fight between these two ONE Championship bantamweight stars in the near future.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 3/31/2019.