He will need to be at his best again when he returns at the biggest event in ONE Championship history.
He will be involved in one of four World Title bouts when he has a rubber match with the man he won his belt from via split decision in November
On 31 March, the Team Lakay superstar will defend the ONE Bantamweight World Title for the first time against Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes in Tokyo, Japan.
After a first-round submission loss to “The Flash” in January 2016, Belingon went on a six-bout win streak to earn his rematch. However, after he evened the score, he knew his rivalry was not settled.
Fernandes was immediately granted a chance to get the belt back, and few could argue he did not deserve it after his record-breaking five-year reign as World Champion.
The tables have now turned for the two competitors, as this time, Belingon will come into the ring with the belt around his waist.
However, the Baguio City native maintains that it is the only thing that has changed from the last time they met.
“Nothing has changed in my preparation – even if I am already the World Champion,” he says.
“I am still hungry to compete.”
The Filipino warrior also admits there are still elements of his all-around mixed martial arts skill set that he needs to improve upon.
Three of his five losses have come by way of submission, and he is determined to shore up his grappling game to avoid the dangerous situations he had to endure against the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt in November.
“I think I still need to improve my wrestling and grappling,” he adds.
“I need to watch out for his wrestling and submission attempts.”
For his third meeting with Fernandes, the Igorot warrior is determined to leave no doubt about who deserves to have their hand raised.
The Brazilian believes the judges’ verdict should have gone his way when they last met, and that is something that weighs on the mind of Belingon.
It is driving him to find a decisive way to claim victory.
“I want to win cleanly, so yes, it definitely adds motivation for me,” he shared.
“If there is an opportunity for me to knock him out, I will not hesitate to grab it.”
The bout with Fernandes is not the only thing driving Belingon, however.
He believes his appearance at ONE: A NEW ERA with his Team Lakay stablemates Eduard “The Landslide” Folayang and Danny “The King” Kingad – who will compete in a ONE Lightweight World Title main event against Shinya Aoki, and a ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix quarter-final against Andrew Leone, respectively – is a massive win for mixed martial arts in his homeland.
By getting to perform on the most high-profile event in the history of The Home Of Martial Arts, “The Silencer” believes the sport, which is already booming, will get another shot in the arm in the Philippines.
That is yet another reason to focus during training so the heroes from Baguio City can unleash their best on 31 March and put on some thrilling performances.
“For us, we just enjoy what we do and train well so that we can give the fans a great match,” he said.
“Of course, I am proud to be one of those representing the country in this grand stage.
“I’m very excited to compete in Japan, and I’m especially excited because it will be my first time in the country.
“It’s an honor to be part of this historic event, and I think being in this position in a huge event like this will help increase the popularity of mixed martial arts in the Philippines.”