Kevin Belingon pulled off the near impossible Friday night by outstriking and outhustling Brazilian superstar Bibiano Fernandes in their rematch to become the undisputed ONE bantamweight champion at Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Unlike in their first meeting almost two years ago wherein he submitted in the first round, the “Silencer” was more threatening with his vicious spinning back kicks.
More importantly, he has showed off massive improvements in his ground game by escaping every submission attempt thrown to him by the Brazilian grappler.
Belingon’s superb efforts earned him a split decision win, ending Fernandes’ unbeaten run since 2011.
“He’s a very tough opponent, I really had a tough time beating him tonight. I respect him as very much. It’s an honor fighting such great fighter,” said the Team Lakay after being draped with the ONE bantamweight belt.
“I really think I deserve this win.”
Fernandes, who has defended the title 10 times, came well prepared for the task. Not only did he threaten Belingon with repeated takedowns, but he also showed he could dish out damaging strikes as well.
However, Belingon gained the upper hand with his spinning body kicks, keeping the Brazilian at bay.
He had the Brazilian in trouble when he trapped the latter with ground and pound near the end of the second round. In Round 4, Belingon fed Fernandes with a big right hand, one that sent the Brazilian crashing to the ground.
Belingon also went through some anxious moments as Fernandes nearly got him submitted by arm bar attempts. Fortunately, Belingon was explosive and slippery enough to pry his way out of the Brazilian’s clutches.
“The game plan was really to knock him out,” said Belingon. “But really, he’s a tough fighter.”
“We saw in his previous fights that he has trouble absorbing body shots, so I kept on giving him body kicks but he has good defense.”
Fernandes was gracious in his defeat.
“I accept the loss… I’ve stretched his arm, you’ve (seen it),” he said. “Kevin Belingon is a great champion.”
“I’ve lost, but the thing is if you fell 1,000 times, you come back 1,000 times.”
With the win, Belingon firmly established himself among Team Lakay’s growing list of champions, which includes ONE strawweight champion Joshua Pacio and ONE flyweight king Geje Eustaquio.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.)