Sydney’s Martin Nguyen fell short in his attempt at capturing a third One Championship title on Friday night where he took on hometown Filipino striker Kevin Belingon for the interim bantamweight title.
One: Reign of Kings took place at Mall of Asia Arena, Manila, Philippines, and was streamed live and free on the promotion’s mobile app.
Belingon proved to be a difficult opponent to overcome as he was dangerous in the stand up and demonstrated great takedown defense when Nguyen attempted to get the fight on the ground. The current dual lightweight and featherweight champion, Nguyen used his footwork to move in and out of range, and also set up kicks. His jab and front kicks worked well for a vast majority of the contest on the shorter Belingon.
Belingon was explosive when he opted to attack with flurries of powerful hooks and spinning back kicks. He managed to connect cleanly on Nguyen multiple times throughout the match. Nguyen began to connect with his patented overhand right in the later stages of the bout, but it was all left too late. Strong takedown defense helped secure the victory for Belingon, as takedown after takedown attempt was stuffed continually in each round, and Belingon could opt to keep the fight as a stand up battle where he was most comfortable.
After five rounds of back and forth exchanges primarily fought out in the feet, Belingon did enough in the eyes of the judges to be awarded the unanimous decision victory, and in the process captured the interim bantamweight title. Belingon on a later date will face current bantamweight titleholder and Brazilian phenom Bibiano Fernandes.
With the win, Belingon adds to a win streak of six and moves up to a 19-5 record, while Nguyen drops to 11-3 with the loss, however remains a champion in two divisions simultaneously.
Kevin ‘ The Silencer’ Belingon put on the performance of a lifetime to secure the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Championship!
Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, July 27, 2018
In the co main event, Japanese grappling sensation Shinya Aoki took on Thai striking specialist Shannon Wiratchai in the lightweight division, where the Japanese veteran proceeded to make quick work of his opposition. Aoki went for the takedown immediately, and began to work from top position. Brutal elbows and ground and pound ensued until the ref was forced to put a stop to the match with Wiratchai being visibly dazed, and left unable to continue bloodied up with deep gashes to his head.
Also on the card, 51 year old Brazilian MMA legend Renzo Gracie made a return to competition after an eight year long hiatus away from the sport. Gracie took on former King of Pancrase Yuki Kondo of Japan. Round one was primarily used as a feeling out process for the combatants, and was relatively inactive. In the second round, Gracie stepped it up and managed to get the takedown where he then was able to secure a rear naked choke submission.
David Lewellin is a Melbourne based contributor for Fight News Australia.