These two warriors have faced off three times for the ONE Bantamweight World Title, and now they are set to go to battle once more – for the final time – on a stage that is fitting for a contest of this magnitude.
Next Sunday, 13 October, the Brazilian will defend his belt against his Filipino opponent from Team Lakay at the biggest martial arts event of all time, and it could be the highlight of ONE: CENTURY PART II.
Fernandes and Belingon are, pound-for-pound, two of the best athletes in the world’s largest martial arts organization, their clash of styles is perfect for creating fireworks in the Circle, and they are each determined to leave no doubt about who is their division’s number one. That should make for their best bout yet in Tokyo, Japan.
To get a taste of the action that could play out at the Ryogoku Kokugikan, take a look back this series, and the incredible action it has produced so far.
When Belingon first tried to take the gold in the main event of ONE: DYNASTY OF CHAMPIONS (CHANGSHA), he faced a man who was already recognized as one of his sport’s greats.
By January 2016, Fernandes had already won the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Title, won and unified the ONE Bantamweight World Championship, and then defended the belt three times. All that was on top of his success as a two-division DREAM World Champion and multiple-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gold medalist.
That is not to say the Team Lakay product was not well respected. He was already an established veteran on the global stage, and his top-class stand-up skills had helped him pull off three of his four wins in the organization via highlight-reel KO.
However, he was not yet the well-rounded athlete that would rise all the way to the top, and his deficiencies on the ground were exposed in the opening seconds of the bout by a grappling master. Fernandes grabbed a leg, tripped his challenger, and then established his dominance on the mat.
“The Silencer” only escaped the Manaus native’s clutches once, and he was put straight back down onto his back. Though he struggled desperately to escape, he could not stop “The Flash” from gradually moving into a position to snatch a tight kimura.
As soon as he torqued the submission hold, Belingon tapped. Round one to Fernandes.
Five Epic Rounds
The rematch could not have been more different from the first meeting between these two men.
Belingon was a different animal by November 2018. He had strengthened his skill set and won six consecutive contests to claim the interim belt and earn another chance to take the ultimate prize in the main event of ONE: HEART OF THE LION.
This time, when “The Flash” shot for his first takedown, it was defended. When the Ifugao native was eventually put on the ground, he exploded up and unleashed a series of spectacular strikes.
That pattern looked like it would continue in the second stanza until Fernandes locked up a tight armbar, and fans around the world prepared to see a tap. Somehow, incredibly, Belingon escaped and came close to a finish of his own with a barrage of ground and pound.
The most significant action of the following period played out on the feet before “The Silencer” again had to wriggle free from a submission attempt in the first of the championship rounds. Once again, he struck back – this time with a right hand that dropped the Brazilian.
That left five more minutes for these competitors to go back and forth on the feet. By the final bell, they had completed one of the most exciting bouts of the year – a close, competitive battle that is essential viewing for any martial arts fan.
It was a close one to call, but Belingon emerged with the split decision verdict from the judges to become the new bantamweight number one.
A rubber match had all the makings of a classic end to a stunning trilogy but an unfortunate misstep by the defending World Champion at ONE: A NEW ERA in March meant the world was left with a disappointing ending.
At first, this looked like it could bring even more thrills than the second encounter as Belingon showed more improvements to his game by reversing a takedown attempt to threaten a finish with a salvo of blows in the first minute.
He also looked better than ever in the stand-up exchanges, but the surprises kept coming as “The Flash” landed a stunning overhand right that would surely have finished athletes that do not possess the heart and durability of the Team Lakay representative.
Unfortunately, this contest came to a premature conclusion in the third round when “The Silencer” attempted to counter another takedown with elbows.
Some of those strikes landed on the back of Fernandes’ head, and after five minutes of injury time, he could not continue. Referee Olivier Coste was forced to issue a red card to end the match via disqualification.
Though the Brazilian regained his belt, he was not happy about the way he had done it, and he had no argument when a fourth bout was ordered immediately after the event.
At ONE: CENTURY PART II, these two elite competitors are sure to erase the memory of the anticlimactic end to their last meeting, and finish their series in a way that will satisfy martial arts fans around the world.
- Watch PART I in USA on 12 October at 8pm EST and PART II on 13 October at 4am EST
- Watch PART I in India on 13 October at 5:30am IST and PART II at 1:30pm IST
- Watch PART I in Indonesia on 13 October at 7am WIB and PART II at 3pm WIB
- Watch PART I in Singapore on 13 October at 8am SGT and PART II at 4pm SGT
- Watch PART I in the Philippines on 13 October at 8am PHT and PART II at 4pm PHT
- Watch PART I in Japan on 13 October at 9am JST and PART II at 5pm JST
ONE: CENTURY is the biggest World Championship martial arts event in history with 28 World Champions featured across various martial arts. No organization has ever promoted two full-scale World Championship events on the same day.
The Home Of Martial Arts will break new ground as it brings multiple World Title bouts, a trio of World Grand Prix Championship Finals, and several World Champion versus World Champion matches to the famous Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan on 13 October.