It’s fight week here in Manila as ONE Championship, one of the world’s premier martial arts league, is celebrating its 14th show in the Philippines with ONE: Reign of Kings.
Apt to its name, some of the world’s martial arts kings will be showcased in the event.
Headlining the card is a bout with high stakes as Team Lakay’s top bantamweight bet Kevin Belingon takes on two-division world champion Martin Nguyen in a five-round tilt for the Interim ONE Bantamweight World Championship.
“ONE Championship is going all-out in the second half of 2018, and we always have something special planned for Manila. In what is perhaps the biggest martial arts spectacle ever held in the Philippines, we have an amazing evening planned for everyone this Friday night. The Mall of Asia Arena will be rocking with action and excitement, delivered by the absolute best in local and international martial arts talent,” expressed Chatri Sityodtong, Chairman and CEO of ONE Championship.
“Kevin Belingon and Martin Nguyen are ready to put on a show. This matchup gives me goosebumps and I know everyone is excited to see how it unfolds. When you put two aggressive and explosive strikers in the cage together, it is sure to produce fireworks. You literally cannot blink when these two guys finally meet at the center of the ONE cage. Given how both are incredible finishers, I don’t expect this bout to go the distance. Bibiano Fernandes is lying in wait, and the winner of this bout goes on to unify the bantamweight world titles!”
For Belingon (18-5), this is the culmination of his life’s work.
“This is without a doubt the biggest bout of my career. Everything that I have worked on to this point, all the countless nights spent in the gym, endless rolls with my teammates at Team Lakay, all the wins and the sacrifices, it all comes down to this.
“I took this challenge against Martin Nguyen, despite having a guaranteed shot at Bibiano Fernandes already, because I wanted to prove that I never back down from any challenge no matter how big or small. Beating Martin will be huge for my career,” Belingon shared. “He is a two-division world champion at both featherweight and lightweight. If I defeat him, I just beat a two-division world champion. Think about that for a second. I am excited to get into the cage this Friday night and do what I do best.”
Nguyen (11-2), on the other hand, sees Belingon as a roadblock in his chase for history.
“Mad respect to Kevin Belingon for accepting this challenge. He didn’t have to, but he did. And that just speaks volume of the kind of warrior this guy is. I have complete and total respect for a martial artist with his values and principles. In a huge way, I see a lot of similarities between us. We are both hungry, and we are both determined for victory. I have worked extremely hard for this matchup and I am set on my goal, which is the ONE Bantamweight World Championship and to become a three-division world champion and make history,” said Nguyen, who lost to Bibiano Fernandes last March.
“Nothing can stop me from achieving that goal. I feel that this is my time.”
In addition, living legends Eduard Folayang, Renzo Gracie, and Shinya Aoki are also set to compete in the stacked card.
“The ONE lightweight division is incredibly deep and with lots of talent. Getting to the top is very hard, but once you are there, it’s a great feeling. I am determined to get back to the top. I can face every opponent, whether they are undefeated or not,” said Folayang, who takes on undefeated Russian prospect Aziz Pahrudinov.
“To be able to come back after all these years and do this again, it seems surreal to me. But I have been preparing a long time for this. I would like to thank Chatri Sityodtong and ONE Championship for the opportunity, for giving me the global stage once again, and for allowing me to satisfy my craving for competition. This one is for the fans,” said Gracie, who faces Yuki Kondo.
“I live to compete, it is my life’s passion. Being able to test my skills against the very best in the world, it’s what I was born to do. I can see myself doing this until I am old. Shannon Wiratchai is a good fighter, he has very good striking skills. But I have faced every kind of fighter in my career, and I have seen everything there is to see inside the cage. When I step back in there, I expect to impose my will on my opponent and get the victory that I have trained very hard for,” added Aoki, who squares off against rising lightweight Shannon Wiratchai.
Truly, Friday night is a celebration of Asia’s finest.
“We are ready to make history once again this Friday night,” closed Sityodtong.