The 30-year-old Filipino was already promised a rematch with ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes for the title later this year.
However, with the Brazilian ruled out indefinitely due to injury, ONE Featherweight & Lightweight World Champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen proposed to face Belingon for an interim title, or the right to be called the number one contender in the weight class.
Belingon did not hesitate to accept, and now, the two warriors will battle for gold.
On Friday, 27 July, Belingon will square off against Nguyen for the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Championship at ONE: REIGN OF KINGS, which emanates from the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.
“Even though I was guaranteed a title shot, I took this bout to prove that I never back down from any challenge,” the Ifugao, Philippines resident says.
“I always face challenges up front. It does not matter whether I beat Martin now or I beat him later — he is determined to get the bantamweight belt, so sooner or later I will have to face him. Now seems like the perfect time.”
Belingon, a Philippines Wushu Champion who trains out of the Baguio City-based Team Lakay, has showcased his phenomenal striking to perfection in his most recent outings.
Ever since losing to Fernandes in his first World Title challenge back in January 2016, “The Silencer” has won five consecutive matches against some of the best bantamweights in the world.
He routed top contenders Muin Gafurov and Kevin Chung, then knocked out former World Title challengers Toni Tauru, Reece McLaren, and, most recently, Andrew Leone.
When Belingon steps into the cage with Nguyen, he will be up against a dynamic knockout artist of equal measure.
“This is going to be a very exciting match. To take on an elite athlete like Martin, it will only be good for my experience. I look forward to testing my skills against him,” he says.
“Martin has very good, high-level skills. His wrestling is very strong, and so is his boxing. He is aggressive, and he punches with power. There is no underestimating this guy.
“But I think his biggest weakness is his speed, especially in this fight. He is not faster than me. I think this will come down to who gets there first.”
With the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Title on the line, a victory – and more notably, the belt – would symbolize so much to each man.
For Belingon, he could finally become a mixed martial arts World Champion, which is the goal he has been chasing ever since he launched his career in June 2007.
As for his Vietnamese-Australian rival, Nguyen could become the first simultaneous three-division World Champion in the sport’s history, which is a dream too good to pass up.
The stakes are incredibly high, and Belingon – along with his stablemates at Team Lakay – know it. That is why they are doing everything in their power to prepare “The Silencer” for the most important bout of his career.
“I am training very hard to make sure I am well-equipped with everything I need to face any situation,” Belingon explains.
“Eduard gave me some tips and also shared his experience with Martin in the cage. We always help each other out at Team Lakay. We share our victories and experiences, and we grow as a team.”
Although Belingon and Nguyen are well-rounded martial artists, they are best known for their explosive striking, massive knockout power, and their fearlessness to engage.
There is a possibility this bout goes all five rounds. However, these two warriors have an affinity for scoring a highlight-reel finish – especially in the first round.
Between them, they have 14 stoppage victories in the opening stanza, and such a scenario could unfold in Manila.
With that in mind, it would be wise not to blink. This main event could end at any moment.
“If I have the opportunity to finish him, I will not hesitate to grab that chance,” Belingon says. “But I am prepared for this fight to go the distance, as well.”