Six years since he first set foot on the ONE Championship cage, Kevin Belingon finally became a world champion.
“The Silencer” defeated two-division champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen to snag the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Championship at “ONE: Reign of Kings” on July 27 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
With his victory, he became the fifth Filipino fighter to win a ONE World Championship title joining the ranks of heavyweight champion Brandon “The Truth” Vera, his stablemates in reigning ONE Flyweight World Champion Geje ‘Gravity’ Eustaquio, former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard ‘Landslide’ Folayang, and former ONE Featherweight World Champion Honorio ‘The Rock’ Banario.
Although his domination of Nguyen was no small achievement, Belingon is looking to book a more important fight: another faceoff with reigning bantamweight king Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes.
The Brazilian champion is currently recovering from an injury, and once the most dominant champion in the promotion’s history returns, Belingon will be right there, waiting for his rematch.
“I respect [Bibiano] as a champion, but we are in the same weight class, and I am the top contender, so there is no escape in facing me. I hope you recover fast, and that we can make the fight this year.” Belingon said.
Belingon and Fernandes first shared the cage back in “ONE: Dynasty of Champions” in Changsha, China back in January 2016. Fernandes easily took the win via a first-round submission win.
The loss did nothing but fuel Belingon’s world championship dreams even more, and the road back to the championship picture was a long one for the 30-year old, who had to run through a gauntlet of former world title contenders and a two-division champion in a just under two years.
Currently riding high on six straight victories dating back to October of 2016, Belingon has taken out the likes of Toni Tauru, Reece ‘Lightning’ McLaren, Andrew Leone, and Nguyen, pretty much a who’s-who in ONE Championship’s bantamweight division.
“I have faced many tough opponents leading up to this interim title, and I believe I have earned my spot to face Bibiano again,” Belingon said in an interview posted on onefc.com
Now, the pride of Baguio City has his sights firmly set on Fernandes and the coveted championship. No one else, nothing else. No more, no less.
“I am looking forward to our rematch. No more detours. Bibiano should be next, and I fully expect to be facing him soon.”
“Soon” can’t come fast enough for Belingon, but the reality is that he’ll have to wait for Fernandes to be given clearance to compete.
Until then, the newly-crowned champion will take a short breather before again buckling down to business.
“Right now, I am just focused on resting and healing my body. I am pretty banged up. My ankle and shin are bruised, and they need time to recover,” Belingon said. “Once everything is good to go, then I will be back in training. But for now, I am going to enjoy the rest. It still has not sunk in that I am a world champion.”
While the record books indeed show that Belingon has already held world championship gold, the Filipino star knows in himself that there’s still one more bit of work to be done, and that’s to avenge his loss to Fernandes and become the undisputed bantamweight titlist.
“Until I beat Bibiano, [however], I will always feel like there is unfinished business to take care of.”