Sunday, January 24, 2016

Kevin Belingon Of Team Lakay Unsuccessful In Bid To Capture ONE Championship Bantamweight Crown

One round. That's all that Bibiano Fernandez of Brazil needed to retain his ONE Championship bantamweight belt last Saturday night when he faced Kevin Belingon of the Philippines in the main event of ONE Championship 37: Dynasty of Champions at the Helong Stadium in Changsha, China. Belingon, who trains and fights under the Team Lakay banner, was forced to tap out with one minute remaining in the first stanza. As to the victorious Brazilian, the win marks his fourth successful defense of his crown.

When the bell rang to signal the start of the fight, the Brazilian champion threw a low kick which the Filipino challenger tried to counter with a straight power punch. Belingon missed his mark which eventually turned into a nightmare because when he over-extended with the punch, it placed him in close proximity with Fernandez. The intelligent grappler that he is, Fernandez saw his chance and he immediately went for a takedown and successfully got it.

Aside from the instance wherein Belingon momentarily got back to his feet (only to be taken down again), Fernandez dominated the contest. Fernandez smothered Belingon with a steady diet of transitions and top control. Realizing that he probably wouldn't be able to finish Belingon in the center of the ring, the champion slowly dragged the challenger towards the cage wall. It paid off very well because it offered him more control with the challenger pressed to the wall. Fernandez went for an arm-bar, turned it into a kimura, and forced Belingon to tap out. With the win, Fernandez improves to 19 wins and 3 losses while Belingon drops to 13 wins and 5 losses.

The loss once again highlights  what is widely considered as the Achilles heel of fighters coming from Team Lakay. Their wrestling and grappling skills are still not at par with the top opposition out there. They need a lot of improvement when it comes to their takedown defense. Grappling is a huge facet of mixed martial arts. Fernandez is a master of it and he trains with some of the best fighters in the planet like Demetrious Johnson who is considered by a lot of observers in the sport as the top pound for pound MMA fighter today. Beating Fernandez would be a tall order. Belingon tried and gave it his best but it's obvious that the disparity in their grappling skills was what caused him the fight.
In other news, three Cordilleran mixed martial artists will be entering the ONE Championship cage next week in the promotion's next event dubbed ONE Championship 38: Clash of Heroes. The event will be held at the Stadium Negara in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on January 29. The main event will be a tussle between Eric Kelly of Baguio City and Ev Ting of Malaysia. Two Team Lakay fighters - Eduard Folayang and Geje Eustaquio - will also be seeing action in the same event. Folayang will lock horns with Tetsuya Yamada of Japan while Eustaquio will face Saiful Merican of Malaysia.