By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
ARGUABLY the busiest fighter right now in ONE Championship, two-division world champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen said he is very excited for his fight with Filipino bantamweight Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon on Friday, July 27, at “ONE: Reign of Kings” at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Battling for the interim bantamweight title, Mr. Nguyen, seeing action for the sixth time in the cage in one and a half years, will try to add the bantam title to the featherweight and lightweight belts he already has against Mr. Belingon in a bout he describes as “fan-friendly” and “fireworks-filled” which should present an interesting dynamic.
“This is a fan-friendly matchup between two aggressive, young beasts, and I can’t wait to lock horns with Kevin. There will be fireworks,” said Mr. Nguyen (11-2) as he prepares for his historic attempt at a third world title.
“Bibiano Fernandes should watch this fight with a close eye. He knows who the rightful challenger is. It’s either me or Kevin Belingon, and I will be doing everything in my power to finish this one,” he added, addressing reigning champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes of Brazil.
The Vietnamese-Australian fighter had his first try at seizing the bantamweight title in March this year but fell short against Mr. Fernandes, narrowly missing it by split decision.
Mr. Nguyen then bounced back well in May, successfully defending his featherweight gold by split decision against Singapore’s Christian Lee.
The rebound win set up Mr. Nguyen with a date with Mr. Belingon (18-5), who is also on a roll, having won his last five matches in ONE Championship.
Given where Mr. Belingon is coming from, Mr. Nguyen is expecting a not-so-easy fight, even going as far as saying that he is the “underdog” playing in enemy territory albeit not necessary playing down his chances.
“This match is going to be difficult. I always think that I am the underdog. I am happy to be the underdog, and I am happy to test myself against the best. However, it’s wrong to count me out. Don’t ever do that,” he said.
“I feel my advantages, to be blunt, have to be my championship round experience and my gas tank,” he added.
Mr. Belingon will be the third Team Lakay fighter that Mr. Nguyen is facing in ONE Championship after featherweight Edward Kelly and lightweight Eduard Folayang, who both he beat convincingly.
“Don’t blink when you watch this fight because I am going to bring it. I also expect that he is going to bring it. I know that I am on the verge of making history. I am not letting go. I am holding onto this tightly. I will go home with three world titles,” Mr. Nguyen said.
Co-main event for Reign of Kings is the lightweight battle between Shinya Aoki of Japan and Shannon Wiratchai of Thailand.
Other Filipinos seeing action are Mr. Folayang and strawweights Joshua Pacio and Rene Catalan.
By Michael Angelo S. Murillo