Filipino bantamweight superstar Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon (17-5) will make his highly-anticipated return to action on Friday, 20 April, when ONE Championship takes over the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila with ONE: HEROES OF HONOR.
For Belingon, this showdown represents a chance to extend his four-bout win streak, and if all goes well, earn himself a second crack at reigning bantamweight kingpin Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes, whom he lost to back in January 2016.
Ahead of Belingon’s high stakes clash with Leone, let’s take a look at the three huge wins that brought him to this point.
Putting Out The “Dynamite”
In April 2017, at ONE: KINGS OF DESTINY in Manila, Belingon stepped into the cage against Finland’s Toni “Dynamite” Tauru, another former bantamweight world title challenger with a significant height advantage, and a proven talent for submissions.
This contest began with the taller Tauru pressing forward, attempting to keep the Team Lakay veteran on the back foot, where his patented wushu striking would be less dangerous. Despite the Finn’s aggression, Belingon kept his composure. He responded to prodding jabs with cracking leg kicks and counter hooks.
Midway through the first round, Tauru landed a lightning quick spin kick, which he followed with a hard-earned takedown. Unfortunately for “Dynamite,” a quick scramble saw the pair return to the feet, and this return to the upright position would signal the bout’s end.
Belingon cranked up the offense, chasing his foe around the cage in search of a finish. Though Tauru was momentarily able to defend against the onslaught, the Filipino’s devastating barrage of strikes eventually sent him careening to the canvas, where a few follow-up punches sealed the deal.
The referee waved the contest off at just 2:27 of the first frame, allowing “The Silencer” to continue his march back to bantamweight title contention.
Stopping “Lightning” With Thunder
Just a few months following the win over Tauru, Belingon returned to the cage for a skirmish with another grappling specialist in Australia’s Reece “Lightning” McLaren, who had just taken Fernandes five hard rounds to a split decision.
This compelling contest occurred at ONE: QUEST FOR GREATNESS in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and was over in a flash.
The bout began with McLaren pushing forward, and strategically working to disrupt Belingon’s striking game. For a moment, the strategy looked like it could work, as the confident “Lightning” even taunted his backpedaling foe.
In an instant, however, the complexion of the match changed. As McLaren recklessly plowed forward, Belingon clipped him with a missile of a right hand. The Australian’s legs gave out, and “The Silencer” chased to the canvas, keen to finish the job with his ground-and-pound.
Although McLaren worked desperately to control Belingon’s posture, his efforts were to no avail. The Filipino rained down elbows and punches until the referee had no choice but to intervene. He stopped the bout 1:02 of the first round.
Just like that, the Team Lakay bantamweight was on a beautiful three-bout win streak.
Dominating The “Oldboy”
Belingon capped off 2017 in dramatic fashion, when he battled then-undefeated Kevin “Oldboy” Chung at ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD in Manila that November.
The wushu specialist was not able to author one of his patented knockout victories. Yet, the victory was impressive all the same, as the Filipino dominated his talented adversary from bell to bell.
When the bout was on the feet, Belingon landed the more meaningful blows, from thudding hooks to blistering spin kicks to the midsection. Then, when the action hit the mat, he flaunted the same thunderous ground-and-pound he used to finish Tauru and McLaren, as he battered Chung with elbows, punches, and knees.
By the time the final bell chimed, Belingon had left no doubt in anyone’s mind. All three judges scored the contest in his favor, awarding him a unanimous decision, and his fourth-straight victory.
Next, Belingon will face another world-class grappler and former World Title challenger in Leone.