ONE Championship: Former champ Bibiano Fernandes believes pro-Pinoy crowd helped sway judges in title bout against Belingon
ABS-CBN Sports on Nov 14, 2018 04:36 PM
"Thousands of fans there, and I think half of them were Filipinos, I was alone there against Kevin, the judges and the fans." - Bibiano Fernandes (Photo courtesy of ONE Championship)
For the first time in five years, ONE Championship has a new undisputed bantamweight world champion in Team Lakay star Kevin "The Silencer" Belingon.
Belingon did the near unthinkable at ONE: Heart of the Lion in Singapore last November 9th when he edged out former long-time champion Bibiano "The Flash" Fernandes via split decision.
It was Fernandes' first loss in 14 bouts and his first loss in ONE Championship.
The 38-year old Brazilian star believes that, while it was indeed a close battle, he deserved to still be the champion at the end of the five-round war.
“When I look at the ONE judging criteria, what they count more, it’s near knockout or submission first, and then damage, control," Fernandes told MMAFighting.com's Guilherme Cruz. "When I saw it, I knew I won this fight. I almost submitted him three times. That punch he landed, I threw a kick and only had one foot on the ground when it hit me, so I lost balance. I waited for him to come, grabbed his leg and came back up. I know I won this fight.”
Aside from going against Belingon, Fernandes believes that he had to deal with the strong Filipino contingent in the crowd as well.
Belingon was the clear crowd favorite inside the Singapore Indoor Stadium that night, and Fernandes says it may have had a hand in swaying the judges' decision.
"Thousands of fans there, and I think half of them were Filipinos,” Fernandes explained. “I was alone there against Kevin, the judges and the fans. Anything he did would drive the crowd nuts. If I lose, I lose, I don’t cry about it, but I think the judges were affected by the fans. I’m a fighter and I do my best, but I can’t fight against the judges and the fans.”
Now, Fernandes is looking at an immediate rematch, something that he says is in his ONE Championship contract. The new champ believes that this is the most likely scenario as well.
The Belingon-Fernandes rematch will likely take place in 2019, when Belingon has completely healed from his injuries.
“I can fight tomorrow, but Kevin can’t. I saw him afterwards and he couldn’t even walk, so I have to respect his recovery, his rest, let him enjoy the belt because he fought bravely, too.” said Fernandes.