Filipino star Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon is ready to position himself for another shot at the ONE Bantamweight World Title.
The 17-5 wushu striker from Baguio City is chasing a second world title opportunity, and hopes an impressive performance at ONE: HEROES OF HONOR will be enough to convince the people that matter that he’s ready for another shot at the gold.
On Friday, 20 April, Belingon will face fellow former world title challenger Andrew Leone (8-3) at the Mall of Asia Arena, Philippines in a battle between two of the division’s best exponents of the striking and grappling arts respectively.
“I know what’s at stake here, and I know I have to beat Andrew Leone to get another shot at the title,” the 30-year-old told ONE Championship.
“I have to continue to give fans what they want, and to leave nothing to chance. Hard work will pay off soon enough. The title is within reach. I will beat Andrew Leone, and continue my march towards the belt.”
Belingon wants a second shot at the current ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes, who defeated Martin Nguyen via split decision at ONE: IRON WILL on 24 March.
Now, two years removed from his first bout with the Brazilian, “The Silencer” wants to book himself in a rematch.
“Simply put, I was not ready to compete for the title back then. There were a lot of things that I still needed to learn,” he admitted.
“It felt awful to lose like that, after all the hard work I had put in to reaching that point. I made some crucial mistakes. After the bout, there was nothing I wanted more than to get right back in there with him, and do things differently.”
After that defeat, Belingon and his head coach at Team Lakay, Mark Sangiao, decided to make some changes.
The team were renowned for their striking pedigree, but if there was one area where they could be criticised, it was in their grappling. So the team made wrestling and grappling their priority as they looked to round out the game of their athletes, including Belingon.
“I did not have that much experience on the ground,” he said.
“But after working on my wrestling and grappling over the past couple of years, I have really improved. Because of this improved grappling, my striking can be showcased even more.”
Since that change of approach Belingon has been in excellent form. He outpointed Muin Gafurov in October 2016, then last year scored back-to-back first-round knockouts over former world title challengers Toni Tauru and Reece McLaren before dominating Kevin Chung in November to round out a stellar year.
Now “The Silencer” says he’s ready to defeat Leone, then move on to defeat Fernandes and capture the ONE Bantamweight World Title.
“I am ready to face the champion. I am ready, more than ever,” he said.
“Becoming world champion has been my goal from the very beginning when I first started this. That has not changed, [and that] is why it is important I win my next match, to keep that dream alive.”