The ONE Bantamweight World Title contest brings the total number of World Championship bouts in Tokyo, Japan on 31 March up to four, and this could be the best of them all.
Here are five reasons why this was the perfect match to make, and the crowd at the Ryogoku Kokugikan is bound to be on their feet for its duration.
#1 Unfinished Business
It just would not be right to leave this series tied at 1-1, would it?
Seeing as the rematch brought these heroes to level terms, standard practice in combat sports dictates they should meet again as soon as possible to settle things with a rubber match.
#2 A Worthy Challenger
There is no man in martial arts who deserves an immediate chance to win back his belt more than “The Flash.”
The Brazilian is the most dominant World Champion in ONE history, with seven defenses since he unified the ONE Bantamweight World Titles in 2013.
This is not a man that needs to prove anything by taking on contenders to book a shot at the gold. He has already shown his quality by beating challenger after challenger over five years.
#3 Leave No Doubt
As happy as the Filipino was about his split decision win a couple of months ago, he will want to make sure no one can question his credentials as ONE Bantamweight World Champion.
As with any judges’ verdict when the officials are divided, the defeated warrior will think they did enough to win – and that is certainly true for Fernandes.
The former World Champion had plenty of success with takedowns and came close to finishing the bout with submissions on a couple of occasions, so he believes he should have had his hand raised.
Of course, “The Silencer” disagrees, but if he can dominate the trilogy bout, or end it with a signature knockout, there will be no doubt who deserves the win.
#4 Now Is The Time
Any delay in making this trilogy contest could risk everything going out of the window.
As one of the most unpredictable sports in the world, featuring athletes who push themselves to the limit, any delay may risk the whole thing disappearing into the ether.
A freak accident or injury could keep either man out of action. Also, in their talent-stacked division, there is any number of talented contenders that, given the chance, could stun the world by beating one of them and hijacking the World Title picture.
It would be best to strike while the iron is hot, and put Fernandes and Belingon together again when the stakes are highest, and they have five rounds to thrill fans again.
#5 No Better Match To Run Back
The last meeting between the best bantamweights from Brazil and the Philippines was one of 2018’s best – so why not give them the chance to put on another show like it again?
Belingon’s thrilling attacks on the feet were only matched by Fernandes’ relentless grappling offense, which put his rival to the brink of defeat before he was able to initiate wild scrambles to break free.
Better yet, the action never let up throughout 25 minutes, as two heroes gave everything until the final bell to emerge with the gold.
If their next meeting is even half as good as that, ONE: A NEW ERA will go down as a great success.