FORMER ONE Championship bantamweight champion and current number one contender Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon returns to action on Friday and is looking to keep his standing and be in a position still to make an assault at the division title.

To take on Brazilian John “Hands of Stones” Lineker in the headlining fight at “ONE: Inside The Matrix III” at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, Team Lakay’s Belingon (20-7) said he is determined to make his return to the ONE Circle something to take notice of, especially since he is coming off a two-fight losing streak.

Both losses came at the hands of reigning ONE world bantamweight champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes of Brazil last year.

“I’m ecstatic to compete, because it’s already been a year since my last fight. The situation we are in right now has truly affected everyone in the industry. Every fighter, including myself, has had to slow things down a little bit and stay isolated in quarantine so we don’t contract the virus,” said Mr. Belingon as he also took note of the challenges they had to go through in the lead-up brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr. Lineker (32-9), a former Ultimate Fighting Championship campaigner, had a winning debut in ONE in October last year with a unanimous decision winner over Muin Gafurov of Tajikistan.

He is currently ranked number five in the division and is keenly eyeing a title shot, something that is not lost to 33-year-old Belingon.

“John Lineker is one of the toughest fighters I will ever face. He’s not an opponent to be taken lightly. He’s got a lot of experience, and a lot of power in his hands, which is why he is known to end fights early,” he said.

Adding, “We have watched his previous fights and we’re confident we can come up with the right game plan for whatever he brings to the table. I have to win this fight to prove that I deserve to stay as the number one contender.”

Also seeing action at Inside The Matrix III is Mr. Belingon’s teammate and former ONE world flyweight champ Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio (13-8), who will take on South Korean Song Min Jong (11-7) in a 64-kg catchweight joust.

Mr. Eustaquio, 31, last fought in November 2019, beating Toni Tauru of Finland by knockout (spinning back kick) in the third round.

He is looking at using the win as a springboard to string back-to-back wins, something he has not done since 2018.

Completing the night for Team Lakay is strawweight Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang (11-2), who is to take on Hiroba Minowa (10-2) of Japan.

ONE: Inside The Matrix III can be seen here over One Sports+ at 8:30 p.m. One Sports, meanwhile, will air the event on a same-day delay at 9 p.m. Additionally, TV5 will air the event on a next-day delay at 11 p.m. – Michael Angelo S. Murillo