Conquering the ONE Championship bantamweight division is already an astonishing feat in itself. Staying on top of it, however, is a different story altogether.
That’s exactly what ONE Bantamweight World Champion Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon aims to achieve as a busy 2019 looms for the recently named “2018 Warrior Of The Year.“
It has been an amazing 2018 for the 31-year-old Team Lakay standout. He went 3-0 for the year, which culminated with a split decision victory over longtime division king Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes last November at ONE: Heart of the Lion in Singapore to finally claim the undisputed title.
The win was Belingon’s seventh straight, with his last loss dating back to January 2016 when he got submitted by the Brazilian in their first encounter.
But for “The Silencer,” his work in The Home Of Martial Arts is just getting started, as a third tilt with Fernandes is on the horizon, along with potential battles with a slew of worthy contenders who are eager to get a shot at the hard-hitting wushu practitioner.
“We are tied at one win apiece, so a third bout to determine the true winner does make sense. I know he is clamoring for a rematch,” the Filipino said.
“I know he thinks he won the last one, so deep inside, I want to prove to him again that I beat him.”
Proving Fernandes wrong – and taking the third bout – is only the tip of the iceberg for what’s in store for Belingon.
Already waiting in the wings is surging South Korean grappler “Ottogi” Dae Hwan Kim, who has strung together a pair of impressive wins to end 2018.
Kim dominated veteran submission artist Masakazu “Ashikan Judan” Imanari in April 2018, and a second consecutive impressive showing against Zhao Zhi Kang of China in November catapulted him near the top of the division.
Big names such as Muin “Tajik” Gafurov of Tajikistan and Yusup “Maestro” Saadulaev of Russia could also be potential challengers to Belingon’s throne at some point in the upcoming year.
Until a match gets finalized, “The Silencer” will continue to spend time with his friends and family during the holiday season.
However, that does not mean he will not be ready the moment ONE comes calling.
“I’m just enjoying the time off right now,” he said. “But of course, I’m open to fighting Bibiano again, or anyone that ONE Championship puts in front of me.”