HAD his way when they first met in the ONE Championship cage, reigning world bantamweight champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes, while still confident of being able to get the job done, believes a much-improved Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon is set to face him when they reengage later this week in Singapore.
Serving as the main event at “ONE: Heart of the Lion” on Nov. 9 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, Brazilian Fernandes faces Filipino Belingon, the interim world bantamweight champion, for the first time since they initially collided more than two years ago.
The upcoming fight is a unification bout between the top two fighters in their division in ONE Championship, Asia’s largest sports media property.
In their first encounter at “ONE: Dynasty of Champions” in China in January 2016, Mr. Fernandes (22-3) made short work of Mr. Belingon (19-5), submitting the latter by way of kimura in the opening round and successfully defending his title.
In the lead-up to Heart of the Lion, the Brazilian champion said he has every intention to repeat over the Team Lakay stalwart and continue to hold the belt that is with him since 2013.
He, however, was quick to say that he expects Mr. Belingon to give him a tougher challenge, armed with the lessons he got from their previous fight.
“Kevin Belingon has improved immensely. I have seen him grow as a competitor over the past few years. I know that in our rematch, Kevin will be a completely different fighter,” said Mr. Fernandes of his opponent, who has racked up six straight victories since his defeat at the hands of the champion.
“Nevertheless, I am very confident that my skills are enough to beat him again. Yes, he is dangerous, but I will control the pace of this fight and the outcome. I am not taking Kevin Belingon for granted, and I am training harder than ever to make sure that I triumph over his best version yet in Singapore,” he added.
Mr. Fernandes refused to make a prediction as to how the fight will end but said as a world champion he will take every opportunity that is presented to him and go for the win.
“I have held this world title for a long time, and I’m not about to give it up now. I am ready to go the full five rounds, but I am also ready to finish the bout by knockout or submission when the opportunity presents itself. I look forward to putting on a show this Nov. 9,” he said.
Both Messrs. Fernandes and Belingon are coming off victories over a similar foe in world featherweight champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen.
Mr. Fernandes narrowly beat Mr. Nguyen, also the former lightweight champ, by split decision in March this year while Mr. Belingon won over the Vietnamese-Australian by unanimous decision in July.
Fernandes versus Belingon was supposed to be the co-main feature of Heart of the Lion to the champion-against-champion clash between women’s strawweight champ “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nam of China and women’s atomweight champion Angela “The Unstoppable” Lee of Singapore.
Unfortunately, it was announced on Monday that the battle between Misses Xiong and Lee would not push through due to the back injury sustained by Ms. Lee late in training.
In place, Ms. Lee’s brother, Christian, will be featured in the co-main event against Japanese Kazuke Tokudome in a featherweight fight. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo