By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
TOP ONE Championship fighters Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen and Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon are thrust to the center cage today as they dispute the interim world bantamweight title.
Dubbed “ONE: Reign of Kings” and happening at the Mall of Asia Arena, both fighters, in the event, are angling to take their ascendancy in the division to a higher level while at the same time positioning themselves for another shot at reigning world champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes via a unification bout down the line.
Two-division world champion Nguyen is out to add the bantamweight gold to his featherweight and lightweight belts and in the process create ONE history.
He said he has trained hard in the lead-up to the title match, recognizing that he is up against an opponent who like him is expected to go all-out.
“Mad respect to Kevin Belingon for accepting this challenge. In a huge way, I see a lot of similarities between us. We are both hungry, and we are both determined for victory. I have worked extremely hard for this matchup and I am set on my goal, which is the ONE Bantamweight World Championship and to become a three-division world champion and make history. Nothing can stop me from achieving that goal. I feel that this is my time,” said Vietnamese-Australian Nguyen at the press conference of Reign of Kings early this week.
It is the same mind-set Filipino Belingon has, describing the fight as the “biggest bout” of his career.
“This is without a doubt the biggest bout of my career. Everything that I have worked on to this point, all the countless nights spent in the gym, endless rolls with my teammates at Team Lakay, all the wins and the sacrifices, it all comes down to this. I am excited to get into the cage this Friday night and do what I do best,” said Mr. Belingon, a stalwart of Baguio-based Team Lakay.
Both Messrs. Nguyen and Belingon had their shot at Brazilian legend Fernandes previously but both failed in their initial attempts.
With two fighters determined to put on a good showing headlining Reign of Kings, ONE Chairman Chatri Sityodtong said an engaging fight night awaits fans trekking to the MOA Arena.
“Kevin Belingon and Martin Nguyen are ready to put on a show. This matchup gives me goose bumps and I know everyone is excited to see how it unfolds. When you put two aggressive and explosive strikers in the cage together, it is sure to produce fireworks. You literally cannot blink when these two guys finally meet at the center of the ONE cage,” said Mr. Sityodtong.
Serving as co-main event at Reign of Kings is the lightweight clash of mixed martial arts legend Shinya Aoki of Japan against Shannon Wiratchai of Thailand.
Other fights in the card are welterweight Renzo Gracie of Brazil against Yoki Kondo of Japan, Filipino lightweight Eduard Folayang versus Aziz Pahrudinov, lightweight Garry Tonon vs Rahul Raju, Armen Petrosyan against Chris Ngimbi in a kickboxing Super Series match, and Panicos Yusuf versus Han Zi Hao in a muay thai Super Series fight.
Filipino strawweights Joshua Pacio and Rene Catalan are also set to see action in the preliminary bouts.
ONE: Reign of Kings can be watched live over the ONE Championship mobile app as well over ABS-CBN S+A and S+A HD at 8:30 p.m.
By Michael Angelo S. Murillo