Like most Filipino mixed martial artists, Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon (13-4-0) of Baguio City, Philippines is working hard towards realizing his dreams, when his efforts materialize into a world title shot. More importantly, each one of his victories has presented the opportunity to live a better life.
This Saturday, January 23, at the Helong Stadium in Changsha, China, Belingon will receive the opportunity of a lifetime when he challenges Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes (18-3-0) in a five-round battle for the ONE Bantamweight World Championship.
Since joining ONE Championship and debuting for the promotion four years ago, Belingon has had his fair share of highs and lows. He’s had spectacular wins as well as heartbreaking setbacks, but what’s consistent with the 28-year old’s performances is his desire for all-out action from start to finish.
And he knows exactly how he’ll approach Fernandes once they are both staring each other down from across the ONE Cage.
“I know where I can catch Fernandes and that's in the striking department,” said Belingon.
“[Fernandes] has a great ground game, but I'm working on my takedown defense and I'll look to hit him with something he won't see coming."
Belingon’s first round annihilation of Russian wrestler Yusup Saadulaev in 2012 left fans on the edge of their seats. His second round demolition job on Australia’s Thanh Vu in a bout immediately after left a lasting impression.
Who can forget how he dumped previously unbeaten David Aranda Santacana to the mat with one perfectly placed hook to the temple?
Without a doubt, Belingon’s improving resume certainly precedes him, which is why he is widely considered one of the most promising Filipino mixed martial arts talents currently on offer.
There is good reason, despite Fernandes having not lost a bout in the last five years and facing numerous high-level opponents, that Belingon represents the Brazilian champion’s toughest test in recent memory.
Yet despite his definitive underdog status, Belingon knows exactly what’s at stake.
"I respect Bibiano Fernandes a lot, he's a great champion, but this opportunity is rare and I plan to make the most of it,” said Belingon. “I'm coming with everything and I will emerge victorious."
Along with Belingon’s rise through the ranks marks the subsequent rise of Filipino MMA warriors who represent the country alongside him -- stars like Eric Kelly, who is also close to getting his crack at ONE Championship gold, and each of Belingon’s Team Lakay stablemates.
With newly minted ONE Heavyweight World Champion, Brandon Vera at the helm, things are looking up for the Filipino MMA contingent and it’s only a matter of time before more opportunities to crown Filipino world champions present themselves.
For Belingon however, the wait is over and the time is now. All signs indicate he’s ready to seize the day.
Behind intense preparations, under supervision by Team Lakay coach Mark Sangiao, Belingon will step into the limelight fully loaded, ready to come out firing on all cylinders.
"I'm deep in training with my Lakay brothers and I'm in the best shape of my life for this fight,” said Belingon, who promises nothing short of victory.
“There will be no excuses on fight night. By the fight's end, my hand will be raised and I will be champion."