KEVIN Belingon doesn’t back out from challenges, never mind the fact that he can just simply wait for Bibiano Fernandes to heal and eventually get a shot at the ONE Bantamweight Championship anew.
So when the idea of creating an interim title for the Bantamweight title against a dangerous foe in two-division champion Martin Nguyen, Belingon, the heavy-handed striker out of Baguio, had no other answer than ‘yes.’
Now Belingon and Nguyen will square off in the main event of ONE: Reign of Kings in a gigantic battle between two of the organization’s best on Friday night.
“I took this challenge against Martin Nguyen, despite having a guaranteed shot at Bibiano Fernandes because I wanted to prove that I never back down from any challenge no matter how big or small,” said the 30-year-old slugger who totes an 18-5 record in his career.
“Beating Martin will be huge for my career. He is a two-division world champion at both featherweight and lightweight,” he added. “If I defeat him, I just beat a two-division world champion. Think about that for a second, I am excited to get into the cage and do what I do best.”
Belingon believes that he has no room for mistakes in this match especially if he wants to get back at Fernandes who beat him late in 2016.
For all the hard work that he’s put in, he knows that a win here against Nguyen will validate all that heading into an eventual rematch with Fernandes.
“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.”
Meanwhile, Eduard Folayang looks to continue his climb back at the top of the lightweight division when he takes on another undefeated Russian prospect in Aziz Pahrudinov.
Folayang is coming off an impressive outing against Kharun Atlangariev and he’s eager to continue on racking up wins against Russians.
“Every victory brings me closer to the title again. This time it’s no different. I will defeat Aziz Pahrudinov and work my way back to the top,” said Folayang.
It’s a loaded fight card all in all to the point that the battle between Strawweight contenders in Joshua Pacio and Pongsiri Mitsatit was relegated to the preliminary.
Legends will also be on the card as former ONE Lightweight champion Shinya Aoki will be fighting for the first time in the Philippines when he takes on Shannon Wiratchai while MMA pioneer and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu legend Renzo Gracie takes on Japanese veteran Yuki Kondo.