ONE Championship: Exchanging strikes with Kevin Belingon won’t be a problem for Bibiano Fernandes
ABS-CBN Sports on Nov 04, 2018 08:33 AM
“I always work on my strikes at the gym. As a competitor, I should be prepared in all aspects of the fight because this is mixed martial arts. This sport has a lot of elements. For big matches like this one, I always have a good striking coach in my corner,” (Photo courtesy of ONE Championship)
Team Lakay’s Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon is one of the most feared strikers under the ONE Championship banner. ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes is completely aware of his tremendous knockout power ahead of their title unification contest at ONE: HEART OF THE LION.
Belingon owns a number devastating stoppages inside the world's largest martial arts organization, including a one-punch knockout of Spain’s David Aranda in December 2013, and his famous spinning back kick finish of Andrew Leone this past April.
Even though many believe that Belingon has the advantage in the striking department courtesy of his wushu background, Fernandes has no qualms in trading punches and kicks with the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Champion in their highly-anticipated rematch in Singapore on 9 November.
“I’ve seen him develop as a fighter, and since the first time we met, I know how strong and explosive he is, but I just want him to know that my striking is not that bad,” he said. “I can turn the lights out when he gives me that opening.”
They are set to face each other for the second time at the landmark event inside the state-of-the-art Singapore Indoor Stadium, which features two World Champion versus World Champion contests.
The rematch with Belingon will be Fernandes’ ninth defense of his ONE Bantamweight World Title, an incredible run that started when he outpointed South Korea’s Soo Chul Kim in a title unification contest back in October 2013.
Fernandes is known to be a world-class Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner, as eight of his 22 career wins have come by way of submission, but his ability to exchange strikes should not be underestimated. The bantamweight king has exhibited on numerous occasions that he packs power in both hands.
In his July 2015 title defense, Fernandes got the job done in the third round by knocking out Finland’s Toni Tauru with one punch. He also had success in his latest battle with Martin Nguyen, wobbling the hard-hitting challenger in the final round.
Fernandes, who has been training with top-notch athletes at AMC Pankration, admitted that he and his team are spending time sharpening his stand-up arsenal to compliment his exceptional Brazilian jiu-jitsu pedigree.
“I always work on my strikes at the gym. As a competitor, I should be prepared in all aspects of the fight because this is mixed martial arts. This sport has a lot of elements. For big matches like this one, I always have a good striking coach in my corner,” he stated.
“I don’t give a lot of power. It is all about the timing, but once it connects, it will definitely hurt. My team and I have been very dedicated to elevating my stand-up game, just like how we focus on my jiu-jitsu,” Fernandes explained further.
"The Flash" stressed that he is willing to exchange strikes with Belingon, claiming that he has already figured out his Filipino rival’s style inside the cage.
“He comes with the right kick on the outside and left kick inside, and he comes with the big overhand,” Fernandes mentioned. “If you want to fight standing up, I’ll fight standing up with you. I don’t fear the fight in the stand-up.”
Although he has witnessed Belingon’s evolution from one-dimensional striker to well-rounded mixed martial artist first-hand, the 38-year-old grappling wizard pointed out that his ground game would still play an integral part of his offense in the rematch.
“Whether it’s striking or grappling, it’s absolutely fine with me, especially against Kevin who showed tremendous growth as an athlete.
“But going to the ground with me, it’s a different story. No one has solved my jiu-jitsu for the past eight years. It will always be the same for everybody.”