ONE Championship: Kevin Belingon's Scintillating Career In Retrospect
ABS-CBN Sports on Mar 27, 2019 05:32 PM
Take a look back at Kevin Belingon's rise in ONE Championship
ONE Bantamweight World Champion Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon will have a chance to cement his legacy when he faces Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes for the third time this coming Sunday.
The pair will wrap up an epic trilogy when they clash at ONE: A NEW ERA, which emanates from the Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan on 31 March.
Whether it’s truly the start of a new era for Belingon remains to be seen. However, he has had quite the scintillating career thus far.
Here’s a look back at his career before he completes his epic trilogy with Fernandes.
The Rise Of The Silencer (2009-2011)
The 31-year-old from Kiangan, Ifugao Province made his entry in the world of mixed martial arts in 2007.
He started in the local circuit, and was thrown into competition against local pioneer Richard Lasprilla in his professional debut. Against all odds, Belingon passed his acid test with flying colors as he defeated his compatriot by way of majority decision.
Blessed with natural athleticism, explosiveness, and power on both hands and feet, Belingon proved too much to handle for the local mixed martial arts scene. He tore through the competition and moved his record to 8-0.
Enter The Home Of Martial Arts (2012)
Belingon’s weaknesses and lack of ground game did not become apparent until he joined The Home of Martial Arts in 2012.
It took Masakazu "Ashikan Judan" Imanari 78 seconds to submit “The Silencer” on the undercard of ONE: WAR OF LIONS.
That submission defeat was followed by another loss, this time by way of decision, at the hands of Soo Chul Kim at ONE: PRIDE OF A NATION just five months later in ONE’s Manila debut.
Belingon, who seemed unbeatable early in his career, lost his aura of invincibility just two matches after signing with ONE Championship.
The Road To His First World Title Match (2012-2016)
Despite the flaws in his game, Belingon has always managed to please the crowd with the help of his striking. Little by little, the Filipino showed he is capable of improving in each bout as he went 3-2 at the promotion from 2012 to 2014.
The start of what would be an epic rivalry between him and Fernandes kicked off in the main event of ONE: DYNASTY OF CHAMPIONS (HEFEI) in January 2016 where the Filipino challenged him for the ONE Bantamweight World Title.
Fernandes was considered one of the best martial artists in the world during that period, and was unbeaten in ONE since 2014. Not only was he a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, but he also happened to have great boxing, too.
"The Flash" proved he was levels apart against Belingon three years ago, as he needed just a single round to dispose of the Filipino via submission.
A Recalibrated Silencer (2016- 2018)
"The Silencer" quickly went back to work to re-sharpen his tools and improve on the weakness in his game. He specifically focused on his ground game, and traveled to Manila to train under the tutelage of Filipino jiu-jitsu black belt John Baylon.
His first trip back to the cage since his loss to Fernandes was no easy task. He had to lock horns striker-wrestler Muin "Tajik" Gafurov at ONE: STATE OF WARRIORS in October 2016. Seemingly more patient and equipped with better takedown defense, Belingon showcased a clinical approach as he out-struck his foe en route to a unanimous decision.
His growth became more apparent as Belingon, who previously struggled against grapplers, soundly defeated his next four foes — namely Toni Tauru, Reece McLaren, Kevin Chung, and Andrew Leone.
Just when everyone thought “The Silencer” did enough to earn another crack at Fernandes' World Title, he had to make a quick detour. With the Brazilian injured, he challenged two-division ONE World Champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen for the vacant ONE Interim Bantamweight World Title in the main event of ONE: REIGN OF KINGS last July.
Belingon outworked Nguyen for 25 minutes to capture the interim belt in front of his adoring fans at the Mall Of Asia Arena. The next stop was the long-awaited rematch he so desperately craved.
Belingon VS Fernandes II (November 9, 2018)
The highly-awaited rematch between the pair took place in the main event of ONE: HEART OF THE LION last November.
Fernandes, who refused to acknowledge Belingon's improvements before the bout, had to learn the hard way that the Filipino is no longer the same martial artist he used to be.
It was a bout marred with takedowns, submission attempts, and a knockdown, which showed that both athletes could now stand shoulder-to-shoulder in terms of skill level.
Both felt they won the match after the final bell, but it was Belingon who captured a narrow split decision victory. Finally, he was the undisputed ONE Bantamweight World Champion.
Completing The Trilogy
ONE vowed to host its biggest event to date in its first visit to “The Land Of The Rising Sun,” and it surely did not disappoint when they added Kevin Belingon versus Bibiano Fernandes in the co-main event.
The upcoming contest between the two rivals will be for all the marbles.
A victory for Belingon in Japan would be far from a fairy tale ending because he still has a long career ahead of him. However, a win would cement his legacy and his long hard road to glory would finally pay off.