Filipino phenom Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon could have taken the easy route and sat tight, but that’s not the 30-year-old’s style.
Belingon had already proved his world championship credentials with a stunning second-round finish of Andrew Leone at ONE: HEROES OF HONOR in April to position himself as the bantamweight division’s top contender.
But with reigning ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes out injured, Belingon had a quandary. Should he sit tight and wait for the Brazilian World Champ to return, or should he stay active and accept another match-up?
ONE Championship officials offered Belingon the perfect compromise solution and the chance to capture a belt, and the Filipino star plans on taking that opportunity with both hands.
Belingon will take on two-weight World Champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen for the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Title at ONE: REIGN OF KINGS in Manila on 27 July.
It is an opportunity for Belingon to capture a World Title n his home country.
“Even though I was guaranteed a title shot, I took this bout to prove that I never back down from any challenge,” he explains.
“I always face challenges up front. It does not matter whether I beat Martin now or I beat him later – he is determined to get the bantamweight belt, so sooner or later I will have to face him. Now seems like the perfect time.”
Belingon has battled hard to get back into championship contention after his first tilt at the title ended in defeat to Fernandes back in January 2016.
Since then, he’s reeled off five straight wins, with three of those coming by stoppage, as “The Silencer” bounced back brilliantly to position himself once again for a shot at the gold.
Now he has the opportunity to not only capture a title, but also to make a statement with a victory over one of the biggest stars on the ONE roster.
“This is going to be a very exciting match,” he enthuses.
“To take on an elite athlete like Martin, it will only be good for my experience. I look forward to testing my skills against him.
“Martin has very good, high-level skills. His wrestling is very strong, and so is his boxing. He is aggressive, and he punches with power. There is no underestimating this guy.
“But I think his biggest weakness is his speed, especially in this fight. He is not faster than me. I think this will come down to who gets there first.”
A victory would see Belingon achieve the World Title he has been chasing throughout an 11-year mixed martial arts career.
And his training camp at Baguio City’s Team Lakay, “The Silencer” has left no stone unturned as he has prepared tirelessly for the match-up.
“I am training very hard to make sure I am well-equipped with everything I need to face any situation,” he declares.
“Eduard gave me some tips and also shared his experience with Martin in the cage. We always help each other out at Team Lakay. We share our victories and experiences, and we grow as a team.”
Both are well-rounded martial artists, but a mere glance at their respective records shows the same x-factor – they are both born finishers.
With a World Title on the line in Manila, you can bet both men will be looking to use their bout-ending striking power to their advantage in what looks set to be a spectacular match-up.
“If I have the opportunity to finish him, I will not hesitate to grab that chance,” says Belingon.
“But I am prepared for this fight to go the distance, as well.”
Whether it proves to be a quick-fire finish or a five-round war, the fans are sure to be entertained as two of ONE Championship’s most exciting warriors do battle for the gold.