Belingon ends 5-year reign of ONE tormentor
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.