By THE NATION
The 32-year-old veteran is now more focused than ever in making another run at the top, and securing a fifth crack at the bantamweight belt.
Recently, however, Belingon found himself entangled once again with ONE Featherweight World Champion Martin Nguyen, after reports that the Filipino stalwart bared he was open to a rematch, but for the featherweight title.
The Silencer’s long-time mentor and head coach of Team Lakay, Mark Sangiao, confirmed as much, revealing that Belingon told him about the potential of moving up a weight class and challenging Nguyen. But according to Belingon, settling matters at bantamweight remains his top priority.
Belingon has had four high-profile bouts against current ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano Fernandes.
The Filipino defeated Fernandes in late 2018 to become the undisputed champion. He was disqualified for illegal strikes in the third bout in March of 2019, surrendering the belt back to Fernandes in controversial fashion. Months later, Fernandes submitted Belingon in the first round to own the edge in their series.
Nevertheless, Belingon feels he deserves another shot at Fernandes before anything else.
“Let’s get one thing clear. Right now, my mind is on getting another shot at the bantamweight belt. That’s where my main focus is,” said Belingon.
“I just feel I have unfinished business here. I’m looking at another fight with Bibiano [Fernandes], and I’m willing to go through anyone to get it.”
On the other hand, Belingon is certainly no stranger to Nguyen, whom he faced in mid-2018 for the interim bantamweight title. Belingon dominated that bout, coming away with a five-round unanimous decision victory for his efforts.
Spending more than 25 minutes locked in the ONE Circle with “The Situ-Asian,” Belingon knows exactly what to expect should he find himself standing across the Australian superstar once more.
“Martin [Nguyen] is just a great striker, and a good fighter overall. He’s very skilled and powerful, and he has great timing. I can’t say much about his weaknesses, because there are very little. I was on my toes the entire time in our first fight,” said Belingon.
“If ONE Championship feels a fight between me and Martin would be good, I have no problem going up a division to featherweight. There are bigger guys at featherweight, but I think I can handle them. It’s just that right now, bantamweight is my priority, so I’ll focus on that first.”
Team Lakay has effectively returned to gym training, after lockdown restrictions in Baguio City were recently eased. The tight-knit group often trains at high altitude in the distinct northern terrain, and spar intensively at their new state-of-the-art gym location.
Team Lakay athletes boast of insane cardiovascular strength and endurance. In fact, there aren’t many opponents who can match Belingon’s motor in the Circle. The 32-year-old veteran says he’s preparing very well for his eventual return.
“I’m just taking things day by day, and doing what I need to do to stay sharp,” said Belingon. “When it’s finally time to get in there again, I’ll be ready.”