Filipino striker Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon has had several career-defining moments since joining ONE Championship six years ago.
During that time, the 30-year-old firebrand has delighted fans with thrilling knockouts and highlight-reel displays of skill.
Most recently, he realized his lifelong dream when he defeated two-division ONE World Champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen at ONE: REIGN OF KINGS to become the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Champion.
Now, fresh off his title-winning performance, Belingon takes a look back at his favorite moments in ONE Championship.
#1 Traveling The World With Team Lakay
As one of the world’s top bantamweight athletes, Belingon has been fortunate to visit some of Asia’s most iconic cities.
Whether he has a match scheduled, or he is cornering a teammate, “The Silencer” has enjoyed traveling to countries across Asia and experiencing other cultures.
However, early in his career, that was not the case. The Filipino did not enjoy the ordeal it took to reach his destinations.
“When I had my first overseas bout, it was not really a good experience for me,” he admits.
“I had to travel from Baguio City all the way down to Manila, and then from Manila, I had to spend a few more hours on a plane to get to our destination. By the time I arrived, I was exhausted and dealing with fatigue. I hated traveling.”
Fortunately, because of Team Lakay, Belingon has learned to love traveling.
The group is a close-knit family, and they treat each other like siblings. Whenever the team goes to events, there is always a strong sense of camaraderie, and that has made the traveling experience much more pleasant.
“Being able to see the world with my brothers in Team Lakay is an amazing feeling,” Belingon says.
“We have made so many incredible memories together, which has only strengthened our bond. It is one of the things I really look forward to every time.”
#2 Headlining A Pair Of ONE Shows In Manila
Belingon always wanted to be the headlining attraction of a major martial arts show, and in 2018, he accomplished that goal.
This past year, he headlined not one, but two blockbuster events in front of his home crowd in Manila, Philippines.
“I am truly humbled at the success I have seen in my career. I was just a small boy from Ifugao who dreamed about this,” he says.
“I never could have imagined that I would one day be headlining the biggest martial arts events in the Philippines, and representing the country in our capital. It is an incredible honor for me.”
In April, he faced Andrew Leone in the main event of ONE: HEROES OF HONOR. Three months later, he was featured in the main event of ONE: REIGN OF KINGS opposite two-division ONE World Champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen.
Both events were huge occasions, and saw Belingon’s star rise even higher.
The Mall Of Asia Arena pulsated with excitement whenever “The Silencer” was in the cage. With every thudding strike he landed, a chorus of echoes and cheers filled the venue.
“To hear the fans chanting my name each time I stepped inside the cage was electric. I could feel a surge of energy coursing through me,” he continues.
“Each time they cheered, I got stronger and stronger. Being a Filipino and carrying the flag into the arena was such an honor, and one that I will cherish forever as an athlete.”
#3 Winning The World Title
For Belingon, there is no highlight in his career greater than his recent World Title victory in front of his countrymen in Manila.
In July, he turned in a strong performance against ONE Featherweight and Lightweight World Champion Martin Nguyen at ONE: REIGN OF KINGS.
Belingon was able to out-strike the Vietnamese-Australian dynamo throughout five rounds to capture a unanimous decision win, and claim the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Title.
“The greatest moment of my career was when I won the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Title. It was a surreal moment,” he says.
“I was confident in myself, but I did not understand how it felt to be champion until I had that belt around my waist. Some fighters spend their entire careers chasing this moment, so I am lucky I got to experience it.”
As confetti fell from the rafters inside the Mall Of Asia Arena, Belingon basked in the adulation from his compatriots.
However, he knows there is more work to be done.
“The Silencer” believes he must keep winning to retain his top bantamweight status, and feels a responsibility to set an example for the people of his homeland – as well as martial artists around the world.
“There is a huge responsibility in being champion. I get it now,” he says.
“There is so much more [to it] than just wearing that belt over your shoulder. As champion, my job is to inspire the next generation of martial artists. My dream is to give honor and glory to my country for years to come.”