The Filipino hero had enjoyed plenty of early success in his first defense of the undisputed ONE Bantamweight World Title, but the match came to a premature end when he landed some illegal elbows.
That meant he was disqualified, the belt went back to his Brazilian rival, and the Team Lakay star was completely crestfallen.
“We were dismayed by that decision because we didn’t expect the DQ. When I hit the head with an elbow, it wasn’t intentional,” Belingon says.
“The last fight with Bibi, during the first and second round, I know I was winning. And then the illegal elbow came, which wasn’t intentional, they gave me a DQ.”
Salvation came almost immediately from ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong, who ordered that the bout be remade.
Now, these rivals will contest a fourth match for the gold – the first time that has ever happened in ONE Championship – on 13 October in Tokyo, Japan.
As soon as the match-up was confirmed, the 31-year-old from Ifugao got straight back to work in the gym to perfect his strategy and repeat the result of their November 2018 rematch that saw him rise to the top of his weight class for the first time.
Now that his date with destiny is in sight, he feels primed and ready to reclaim the belt.
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“Our training camp is getting better and better. Our condition and training is going 100 percent in striking, in grappling, and in wrestling,” he says.
“Our tactics have not changed. We are focused on our game plan for this fight.”
“The Silencer” enjoyed a ton of success against the Brazilian the last two times they met with his fast, accurate, and powerful spinning back kicks to the body, and he thinks they could be his key to victory again.
He knows his potent, wushu-based striking is where it needs to be, so his main focus in training in Baguio City is on his grappling, but he has still spent time formulating some alternative attacks to counter any changes in Fernandes’ approach.
“Maybe he is thinking that I will strike him again in his body, that’s why I’m thinking he is really preparing for it. That’s why we are finding ways that we can hit or hurt his body,” he adds.
“I think he will be more aggressive in this match. I think he will go to take down on this match. Of course, I’m preparing for his attempts, especially in wrestling and grappling.”
This bout is the biggest of Belingon’s life – not just because he cannot afford to suffer a third defeat to Fernandes, but because it will take place on the biggest martial arts event in history.
However, after a multitude of main events and high-stakes encounters, he insists that he does not feel under any pressure.
He is also not tired of having to prepare to face “The Flash” yet again. He is the only opponent “The Silencer” has had on his radar since last July, but he is still motivated by the challenge he presents.
“Well, I’m still excited for this match against Bibi because I really want to get the World Title – that is our main goal,” he explains.
Despite the setback he suffered in his last contest, he is also sure he will leave the Ryogoku Kokugikan with the ONE Bantamweight World Title and bring the belt back to Baguio.
He is also positive he can score a finish to prove beyond doubt that he is the top competitor in his weight class, and Belingon vs. Fernandes IV will be the final chapter of their rivalry.
“Every time I go to a fight, my confidence is still 100 percent because that is still the key to victory. If you don’t have confidence in the fight, you won’t win,” he says.
“That’s why for me, my mentality for my last match – and even my fights before – is still the same mentality I carry for this match.
“It’s hard for me to say how I’ll finish the fight, but I will try to finish with a knockout if I have an opportunity.
“I will make sure that I will win so there’s no reason for us to have a fifth match.”
ONE: CENTURY is the biggest World Championship martial arts event in history with 28 World Champions featured across various martial arts. No organization in history 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.