Belin­gon ends 5-year reign of ONE tor­men­tor

The Philippine Star - - SPORTS - By JOEY VIL­LAR

Two years ago, Kevin Belin­gon didn’t last a round against an ex­pert grap­pler in Bib­iano Fer­nan­des. Fast for­ward. Armed with a vastly im­proved ground de­fense, the Filipino named “The Si­lencer” lasted the full five rounds against the Brazil­ian cham­pion to emerge the new undis­puted ban­tamweight king of ONE Cham­pi­onship. The 31-year-old Team Lakay stand­out did enough to eke out a split de­ci­sion that ended Fer­nan­des’ five-year reign while crown­ing him­self the undis­puted cham­pion of the divi­sion in the ONE: Heart of the Lion at the Sin­ga­pore In­door Sta­dium Fri­day night. It was Belin­gon’s sev­enth straight vic­tory and 20th over­all against five de­feats. It in­cluded a unan­i­mous tri­umph over Mar­tin Nguyen in ONE: Reign of Kings at the MOA Arena in July this year. The win booked Belin­gon the in­terim ban­tamweight crown and a ti­tle uni­fi­ca­tion match with Fer­nan­des.

Belin­gon made sure he wouldn’t fall to Fer­nan­des in less than a round the way he did when he lost via sub­mis­sion (kimura) in ONE FC 37: Dy­nasty of Cham­pion 5 in Changsa, Hu­nan, China on Jan. 23, 2016.

Belin­gon joined coun­try­men Geje Eus­taquio (fly­weight), Joshua Pa­cio ( s t r a w w e i g h t ) a n d B r a n d o n Ve r a (heavy­weight) as Filipino cham­pi­ons in ONE.

It was, in con­trast, Fer­nan­des’ first de­feat af­ter 14 straight wins span­ning al­most five years. It was only his fourth set­back against 22 wins in an il­lus­tri­ous 14-year mixed mar­tial arts ca­reer.

Fa­ther time may have caught up on Fer­nan­des, who is now 38 years old.

Belin­gon con­nected on sev­eral spin­ning back kicks and used his ex­cel­lent strik­ing game to the hilt and fended off re­peated at­tempts by Fer­nan­des to win the duel via sub­mis­sion.

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