For the past three outings of Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon (16-5) inside the ONE Championship cage, the Filipino mixed martial artist has proven himself as the next worthy contender for the coveted ONE Bantamweight World Championship.
Ever since unsuccessfully challenging Bibiano Fernandes for the gold-plated strap in January 2016, Belingon has run through his recent opposition by piling up three-straight stellar victories.
Following his submission setback to Fernandes, Belingon took several months off before re-emerging in October 2016 by handing top Tajik prospect Muin Gafurov his second professional loss via unanimous decision.
Belingon followed it up with an astounding knockout conquest of Finnish dynamo and former title contender Toni Tauru last April in front of a sold-out crowd at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.
In his most recent bout, Belingon showcased another epic performance by notching a first-round knockout win over fellow ex-title challenger Reece “Lightning” McLaren last August.
After picking up an emphatic victory over McLaren, it appeared that Belingon was on his way to a second encounter with Fernandes.
However, Belingon is having a slight detour towards his goal to meet Fernandes again as he has been booked to face Korean-American standout Kevin “Old Boy” Chung (5-0) in a three-round affair on the undercard of ONE: Legends of the World, which takes place once again at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines on 10 November.
For Belingon, his cage showdown with Chung is an opportunity to make a truly impressive statement as his objective is to score a rematch with Fernandes for the organization’s bantamweight title.
“Make no mistake about it, my performances in the cage as of late are a message to the organization and to the reigning ONE Bantamweight World Champion. I am coming for that belt, and no one can stop me. Whoever they put in front of me, I will be looking to destroy. I am a man on a mission,” he stated.
According to Belingon, defeating Chung in decisive fashion may strengthen his bid to get a rematch with Fernandes.
“My mindset remains to showcase my skills and remain focused on executing the game plan. My team and I have devised a tremendous strategy in dealing with my next opponent. Even though I have scored some recent knockouts, I am not going in there recklessly,” he explained.
“If at any point I sense my opponent is ready to go, and the knockout presents itself, I am like a shark in a fish tank. There is no doubt I will go for the finish, and I will end matters quickly. I will strike my opponent until the referee pulls me off him,” Belingon added.
It seemed to take the 30-year-old Baguio City native a while to realize just how merciless his striking power is.
Despite running at breakneck speed to 9-0 at the start of his professional career, the Team Lakay bantamweight was not a renowned knockout artist.
But since signing with ONE Championship in 2012 and focusing on his training regime in the mountain region of the Philippines, five of his seven victories have come by way of knockout.
“I have bolstered my training, working on all areas of my game from striking to grappling,” Belingon shared.
With his Wushu background honed under Mark Sangiao, Belingon is as lethal as the nickname suggest as he is fast, destructive and goes for the clean shot.
Belingon is literally punching his way to a second title opportunity against division kingpin Fernandes, having recently knocked out two former world title challengers in the very first round.
“I want to show everybody that I am the real title challenger-in-waiting. I have realized my mistakes in my first encounter with Bibiano, and I have worked hard to erase those flaws,” he furthered, “He is a great world champion, but I feel things will go differently if we ever meet again.
“The time will come when I will be able to showcase my improvements.”
Although vying for the ONE Bantamweight World Championship title remains as his top priority, Belingon clarified that his current focus is fixed on his date with Chung at ONE: Legends of the World.
“My opponent is not easy, and I am not taking him for granted, which is why I am completely focused on my upcoming bout this November 10. This is a dangerous game we play, and we cannot underestimate anybody. I need to be at my absolute best so I can turn in another great performance for the fans. Competing in front of my hometown crowd, the pressure is on to score another huge victory,” he declared.
The stakes are incredibly high for Belingon, unveiling that he is preparing himself to be in the best shape of his life.
Belingon knows that each win from here on out is another step closer to the ONE Bantamweight World Championship belt.
“I know I will meet Bibiano again in that cage, and when that day comes, I need to be prepared. There is not a day that has passed that I have not thought about that first bout,” he said.
“But for now, my objective is to win against Kevin Chung on November 10.”
ONE Championship pledges to help Global Citizen in fight against poverty
During the pre-fight showdown between the fighters for the main evening of ONE Championship: Global Superheroes, the biggest mixed martial arts promotion in Asia also forged a partnership, Monday afternoon.
ONE, through chief executive officer and chairman Chatri Sityodtong, vowed to help Global Citizen in its fight to end poverty.
“It is with great excitement that I announce ONE Championship’s partnership with Global Citizen, an NGO with the goal of ending extreme poverty across the world by the year 2030,” said Sityodtong. “Just like Global Citizen, ONE Championship aims to inspire the people of the world to come together to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges.”
“We are thrilled to be joining forces with ONE Championship to bring Global Citizen to Asia. ONE Championship reaches millions of young people around the region and together we will engage them on issues that impact the entire world,” expressed Global Citizen co-founder Wei Soo. “Since we launched Global Citizen in 2012, over 13 million actions have been taken, and we are excited to drive more actions and increase our impact for the world’s most marginalized people through this partnership.”
Headquartered in New York, with offices in Canada, Australia, Germany, and the United Kingdom, Global Citizen was founded in 2012 with the goal of building the largest platform where people can learn about issues, take action on what matters most, and join a global movement working to end extreme poverty by 2030. Since then, millions of Global Citizens around the world have taken over ten million actions, which includes millions of emails, tweets, petition signatures, and phone calls targeting world leaders to end extreme poverty by 2030.
To date, the actions by Global Citizen’s global community, along with its high-level advocacy efforts and various partners, have resulted in 130 commitments and policy announcements from leaders, including financial aid valued at over US $35-billion, that is set to affect the lives of over 1.3 billion people.
Also present in the launch were ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon Vera, ONE Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee, and former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang.
The partnership launching at ONE’s upcoming event in Manila, Philippines on Friday, January 26, will harness the power of ONE’s platform to engage millions of martial arts fans around the world to support initiatives and find solutions to the issues associated with extreme poverty.
Global Citizen and ONE will collaborate across 24 live ONE events scheduled in 2018, and various outreach activities throughout Asia. Fans will have the opportunity to take action and engage with specific policy areas including, education, food security, hunger and nutrition, global health, gender equality and empowerment.
“Our ONE Championship athletes embody the spirit of perseverance and many have risen through poverty through martial arts, inspiring millions of people around the world with their journey,” Sityodtong added. “Through our collaboration across all 24 of our live events scheduled in 2018, ONE Championship and Global Citizen aim to affect positive movement in our society.”
The first action ONE fans can take will be centered on global education. Fans will be able to call on donor countries such as Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, and India, to attend the Global Partnership for Education’s replenishment conference in Dakar, Senegal on February 2, 2018, and make a commitment to GPE to support better education for all. Currently, 264 million children around the world are missing out on an education.
Over half are girls, and over 75 million have had their schooling disrupted by conflict or natural disasters. At the replenishment conference, the GPE will raise much needed funds that will allow it to continue to support quality, inclusive education to hundreds of millions of children around the world.
Rene Catalan continues rampage with TKO win
Rene Catalan continues to turn critics into believers
Filipino fighter Rene Catalan made his sixth appearance inside the ONE Championship cage at ONE: Kings of Courage, held at the Jakarta Convention Center in Indonesia, Saturday evening. He faced 21-year-old Chinese athlete Peng Xue Wen in the opening main card bout, and leaned on his elite wushu skills to stop the young star at the 4:22 mark of the second round.
The victory improves Catalan’s record to 4-2 (1 NC), extends his winning streak to four, and gives him the first TKO stoppage of his martial arts career, as he bids to climb the strawweight ladder in search of the ONE Strawweight World Championship.
“The Challenger” came out in the southpaw stance to open the bout, throwing big hooks and a head kick that narrowly missed as he established the center of the cage from the start of the contest.
The Filipino landed a host of powerful strikes, including a perfectly-placed uppercut and a melee of punishing leg kicks, but Peng’s conditioning and composure kept him in the match as he looked to stand and trade with the man 18 years his elder.
Catalan picked up where he left off when the bout resumed in the second round, this time operating out of the orthodox stance, landing more leg kicks and continuing to deny Peng any space to work.
Despite his dominance on the feet, there was a brief moment of concern for the Filipino on the mat when he jumped into the Chinese wrestler’s guard mid-way through the second round, and immediately found himself in a triangle choke. But the Filipino kept his composure and managed to work himself free.
Once the fighters returned to their feet, Catalan poured on the pressure in search of a finish, and he got it with just 38 seconds remaining in the stanza.
“The Challenger” scored big with a liver shot, then unloaded a fierce flurry of punches that forced Peng onto his back foot. Another shot forced Peng to the mat, where a salvo of ground and pound from Catalan eventually forced the TKO stoppage as referee Olivier Coste stepped in to halt the contest.
— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) January 20, 2018
Photo, story, and video from ONE Championship
Seeing Eduard Folayang push inspires Joshua Pacio
Every time Joshua “The Passion” Pacio (13-2) steps into the ONE Championship cage, it is in pursuit of a lifelong dream, one that he has had since a young boy growing up in Baguio City in the Philippines.
Having already conquered the Philippine and regional martial arts scenes, winning several titles along the way, only one target remains –- the ONE Strawweight World Championship.
The 22-year-old Team Lakay standout may be one of the younger competitors in the organization, but he has already emerged as a seasoned leader in one of the most well-respected gyms in Asia and could be the next martial arts superstar of the Philippines.
Ever since falling short in his bid to capture the ONE Strawweight World Championship title against then-titleholder Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito in October 2016, Pacio was a man on a mission to catapult himself back into title contention.
However, it was not a smooth path going back to the world title stage for Pacio as he has had a mixed run of results.
After a career-defining split decision win over former world champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke in March, Pacio was then submitted by top Japanese prospect Hayato Suzuki in the first round of their recent August clash.
Although he managed to redeem himself by scoring a highlight-reel knockout of former boxing champion and compatriot Roy Doliguez this past November, Pacio still looks for consistency with regards to his performance inside the ONE Championship cage.
“It’s more about consistency.
“To be consistent inside the cage is what I am for at present. I have to win it all if I want to be back in the title contender’s position. A single loss could bring me back to square one. However, I am willing to work for it,” he said.
Despite the rough road back to vying for the ONE Strawweight World Championship, Pacio is inspired to embrace the grind as he witnessed Team Lakay’s elder statesman Eduard Folayang endured a tumultuous period of uncertainty in his martial arts career before becoming one of the brightest superstars and most beloved titleholders in ONE Championship history.
“Before he (Folayang) got the belt, he went through a lot of ups and downs in his career. He was beaten and was knocked out twice, but I saw the fight still burning in him,” he stated. “Now, he still goes to the gym and tries to get better and better every day.
“He taught me a lot about life and its spiritual side, and he taught me positive attitudes that will bring me up in my career.”
According to Pacio, it has been his mantra to turn his heartbreaking losses into lessons that would give him the fresh perspective to persevere and push forward until he achieves his goal.
“My two losses in my career made me realize just how much more I had to improve so that I can become a better martial artist,” he disclosed.
“I realized that there are a lot of holes in my game, and that the only way to get better is to recognize my weaknesses.”
His hunger to take things into another level showed in his most recent outing as he knocked out Doliguez in the second round with a spinning backfist last November.
Pacio has the chance to make it two in a row as he is set to duke it out with China’s Lan Ming Qiang on the undercard of ONE: Global Superheroes, which takes place at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines on Friday, January 26.
Pacio was originally scheduled to square off with Pongsiri “The Smiling Assassin” Mitsatit in the co-main event, but the undefeated Thai was forced to withdraw from the contest just a week out from the bout due to injury.
Lan accepted the offer to step in for Mitsatit and face a former world title contender like Pacio in his promotional debut.
“I was excited about my bout with Pongsiri because it would have been a clash of the young guns. I am not disappointed because it is safety first. If I was the one sick or injured, I would not compete either, so I hope he recovers fast and gets back on track,” he shared.
“Lan Ming Qiang is my new opponent now, and I need to adopt quickly to his style. But our game plan is still the same, and I will execute that on 26 January.”
From Guangxi, China, Lan is a national sanda champion who trains alongside flyweight world title contender “The Southern Eagle” Ma Hao Bin at the Jincan Defense Club.
After a 16-2 Wushu Sanda record and several championship titles, the 24-year-old Chinese prodigy recently made his transition to the cage and already has a pair of stunning victories to his credit.
The opponent change has not affected Pacio or his training at Team Lakay, revealing that he will continue his normal preparation alongside head coach Mark Sangiao and his world-class teammates.
“The toughest thing about Lan’s skill set is his striking game, but I think I have competed against some of the best strikers in my division,” he stressed.
“I expect that Lan will be explosive and hungry, so I will stick to our game plan and get the win.”
For Pacio, his three-round cage encounter with Lan is an opportunity to build some momentum.
“I see this match as a very exciting one because I know we are both warriors, and I know we will put everything on the line on the 26th.”
Edward Kelly honored to fight alongside brother Eric
Eric and Edward Kelly lived under the same roof for years in their hometown of Baguio City when they were young, and shared the same burning passion in martial arts.
Growing up in the small town community of San Tomas Central, located within the city limits of Baguio, Eric and Edward did not always get along with one another, as the two fought all the time, sometimes even resulting in injury.
“We were not that close before. We always fought. In short, Eric and I were headaches to our parents,” Edward recalled in jest.
“But of course, things change when you grow up and mature. We now appreciate each other’s company.”
Fortunately, when the brothers entered high school, Eric discovered martial arts, and everything would change for both of them.
Edward paid attention to the growing accolades of his older brother and was heavily motivated by it.
“I noticed after he started martial arts that it taught him the discipline not to fight me as a brother. Instead, he started giving me advice through what he had learned,” he bared. “I also joined martial arts because it teaches you discipline, and a lot of other positives, too.”
Years later, both men have made remarkable runs as outstanding martial artists in their respective professional careers.
Eric is widely regarded as one of the best homegrown martial arts athletes to come out of the Philippines.
A Wushu practitioner who combines solid striking techniques with high-level grappling skills, Eric owns nine scintillating submissions and one knockout out of 12 total career victories.
Eric’s most impressive showing to date came in a submission win over Rob Lisita in July 2014, a performance that earned him the USD 50,000 ONE Warrior Bonus.
Meanwhile, Edward is considered as one of the best and brightest featherweight prospects to emerge from the well-established martial arts scene in the Philippines.
With a complete striking and grappling skill set, Edward brings Team Lakay’s world-renowned Wushu to center stage as he showcases his impeccable skillset inside the ONE Championship cage.
In addition, the younger Kelly has won three of his last four bouts under the ONE Championship banner, all by spectacular finish.
The Kelly brothers get a rare chance on Friday, January 26, as the siblings will compete side-by-side when ONE Championship holds its first of the four scheduled events in the country for 2018.
It is the first time both of them will be featured in a ONE Championship event together, and Edward plans to make it a night they will never forget.
“I am so excited because finally, it’s going to happen. It marks the first time that I will compete alongside my older brother. Surely, it’s going to be a memorable night for the both of us,” he said.
“We have the same aim of winning. So making it two for two on this card will make this extra special.”
As Eric seeks to get back on the winning track at the expense of Nunes, Edward is likewise looking to move forward in his career after his three-bout winning streak was snapped by American stalwart Emilio Urrutia in August 2017.
In his next cage outing, Edward goes up against Meul, a undefeated promotional newcomer with six wins to his credit.
“My coaches has prepared me well for this. I am not going to disappoint my team and my country when I enter that cage on 26th of January,” Edward assured. “I don’t want to let my countrymen down this time. I am here to give them a great bout.
“And of course, win the bout in impressive fashion for them.”
Edward has no qualms if he has to go full three rounds with Meul, but he admitted that his sights are always set on securing the finish.
“I am looking to dominate him for three rounds. But hopefully, I can get the finish,” he vowed.
“A finish will be the perfect way to tell the world that I am back.”
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