Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon may be one of the leaders of Team Lakay, but on Friday Night, 21 April, he plans to become a leading contender in the bantamweight division.
The 29-year-old Baguio City, Philippines native will battle Finland’s Toni “Dynamite” Tauru at ONE: KINGS OF DESTINY, which will be held in front of his countrymen at the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila.
While the Filipino prefers to display his striking finesse and get the knockout, he is prepared for every situation.
“I will try to [keep] the fight standing up,” Belingon reveals. “But if we go to the ground, I will not hesitate to grapple with him and submit him.”
Belingon’s desire to keep the fight standing is not the least bit surprising. After all, the former Filipino MMA flyweight champion is a wushu-based fighter, who has been working with Mark Sangiao ever since he attended the University Of The Cordilleras more than a decade ago.
The two developed a close bond, and ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang further cultivated Belingon’s talent in those formative years.
Upon receiving his Bachelor Of Science in Criminology, “The Silencer” gravitated more towards the martial arts than law enforcement. That led him to Team Lakay MMA, where he has maintained a steady presence ever since the gym opened its doors in 2006.
“Before Team Lakay was made, I was already a member of the team,” he recalls with a sense of pride. “I was one of the first fighters at Team Lakay.”
Ever since making his professional MMA debut in 2007, the Team Lakay elder has accumulated a respectable 14-5 record, with five wins coming via TKO and three more via submission.
The Filipino standout’s biggest moment yet happened in January 2016 when he challenged ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes for the coveted title at ONE: DYNASTY OF CHAMPIONS (CHANGSHA). Things did not go his way, however, as the champ tapped him out with a kimura in the opening stanza.
Following his loss to Fernandes, Belingon took several months off before re-emerging last October at ONE: STATE OF WARRIORS, where he handed rising star Muin Gaforov his second professional loss.
Despite getting the unanimous decision victory, “The Silencer” believes he could have done much better.
“I was not impressed with my performance last time because I did not show much action,” he says. “But I am still happy because I was able to get the win.”
Belingon will attempt to be more impressive this time around, but Tauru has a renewed vigor, and is trying to climbs the ranks, too.
The 32-year-old Tauru is a Vale Tudo specialist who holds an 11-4-1 professional record with eight of those wins coming via submission. A former CWFC Bantamweight Champion, the man called “Dynamite” recently bounced back from a three-fight skid at ONE: AGE OF DOMINATION last December when he tapped out Belingon’s teammate, Geje Eustaquio, with a rear-naked choke.
The Finnish dynamo had made his promotional debut against Fernandes at ONE: KINGDOM OF WARRIORS in July 2015, and was knocked out in the third round.
Belingon has watched Tauru’s fight with “The Flash” and believes he, much like the champ, possesses the power to knock Tauru out.
“I watched his fight against Bibiano (Fernandes) and I think I can knock him out, too,” the Team Lakay dynamo explains. “Toni is a tough fighter and I think his strength is on the ground, but I will not hesitate to grapple with him.”
For “The Silencer,” this is an opportunity to make a truly impressive statement. His primary objective is to score a rematch with the Brazilian champ for the organization’s bantamweight title ,and defeating Tauru, especially with a finish, may push him to the head of the line.
Even if he is not the next title challenger, a victory will get him on the right path.
“I believe I will face [Fernandes] soon and I am going to get his belt,” the Filipino states. “My goal is to win all my fights and be the bantamweight champion.”
Not only would that dream scenario provide Team Lakay’s head coach Sangiao with a third ONE Champion on his resume, but it would also further inspire the team’s younger generation of fighters, including April Osenio, Gina Iniong ,and Danny Kingad, all of whom look up to Belingon.
That leadership role is something that continuously drives Belingon.
“Being one of the elders in Team Lakay, I feel more motivated because my younger teammates are looking up to me as a tough and a disciplined fighter,” he explains. “I can also keep them motivated if I keep on showing them good fights and a good attitude during training.”
If he can continue winning and delivering knockouts, he could soon find himself becoming the leader of ONE’s bantamweight division sooner, rather than later.