KEVIN Belingon waited for more than two years to get a second shot at the most dominant champion in ONE Championship history in Bibiano Fernandes.
Last November, Belingon got the rematch that he had been waiting for and he made sure not to waste it this time as he scored a close split decision victory to hoist away the bantamweight title from Fernandes and end the Brazilian’s 14-fight winning streak and eight-year unbeaten run.
Belingon, who lost via submission to Fernandes in 2016, knew that his moment was bound to happen.
“Wala, wala naman,” said Belingon when asked if he had any doubts entering the rematch with Fernandes.
“Sa akin 100 percent ang confidence ko sa laban na yun. Mas nagimprove ako ngayon, compared to the last time,” he added.
Belingon’s title win was Lakay’s third of their four titles this year, but it’s definitely the sweetest. While Geje Eustaquio, Joshua Pacio and Eduard Folayang all had to go through tough opponents, none of which are in the caliber of Fernandes who for years instilled fear in the division with his elite grappling and top notch all-around skills.
But for Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao, there’s no such thing as ‘unbeatable’ in the world of Mixed Martial Arts, and that’s exactly what they proved on that fateful night in November.
“Sa panonood ko and in my experience in coaching sa MMA, wala namang undefeated sa MMA. I know na meron at meron siyang weak side kaya ayun ang hinanap namin,” said Sangiao.
“Pinaghandaan talaga namin si Bibi lalo na yung ground game. Isa sa mga talagang tinutukan namin yung back kick na ilang beses din tumama kay Bibiano,” he added. “Alam namin na tough fighter talaga siya kaya talagang nag train kami ng sobra sa ground.”
The moment they started gearing up for Fernandes, Sangiao saw it in his fighter’s eye that he was going there to win – and not just to compete.
“Yung confidence niyang manalo. Yun ang pinakamalaking improvement niya,” Sangiao said.
That confidence stems from months of preparation and that unshaken belief from the famed Lakay stable that they can hang with anybody in the game if they put their minds to it.
Not many believed Belingon can pull that off, but all that matters is himself and the people who surround him.
And they believed, without a shadow of a doubt.
“Parehas din yung naging preparation namin. Dapat kasi hindi ka lang physical, lahat nakaprepare kami – from physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually ready na lahat kasi alam naman namin na matindi si Bibiano,” Belingon said.
“Ayun naging maganda naman ang performance namin dun.”