REIGNING and defending ONE bantamweight world champion Kevin Belingon and Bibiano Fernandes will meet for a third time at the Rygoku Kokugikan on March 31 at ONE: A New Era in a rubber match for Belingon’s bantamweight strap.
Belingon first challenged the Brazilian back in January 2016 for the title, but failed in his bid to capture gold as he was forced to tap in the first round via Kimura.
The Team Lakay stalwart however refused to accept his fate and began the long journey back to the top by winning six straight bouts against the promotion’s top contenders.
Belingon’s streak earned him another chance to meet Fernandes in a rematch last November, and this time, his hard work proved enough for him be crowned the undisputed ONE Bantamweight World Champion by a razor thin margin.
“It feels good to be on such a nice little win streak. It just goes to show that my hard work and long hours at the gym is paying off. That’s all we really want out of training, is for the hard work to show,” Belingon said.
Belingon added he remains confident heading into the trilogy and promises to be at his best against Fernandes.
The world champion from Ifugao added he is not taking this trilogy bout lightly as he clearly recalls how the AMC Pankration representative gave him one of the most unforgettable 25 minutes of his life. This made Belingon respect and acknowledge his opponent even more.
“I have all the respect in the world for Bibiano,” Belingon said. “He is a tremendous athlete and he has all the skills to prove just that. He is also an amazing strategist and very smart in the cage. He’s a veteran and it is very hard to deal with that experience. He put up a great performance last time and made it difficult for me to get any sort of advantage.”
Belingon is confident he can defend his bantamweight world title successfully but knows all too well that this match will be the toughest of all their encounters so far.
After all, Belingon is about to face a legendary world champion whom he holds in high regard.
“Everything that I got, I had to work hard for,” Belingon concluded. “I can see why he is so well-respected and revered. He’s a legendary World Champion after all. But I was able to show him also how much I have improved, which is why I got the victory.”