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Pinoy fighter clinches ONE ‘bantam’ crown

Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon of Baguio City overcame a stiff challenge from two-division ONE World Champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen to claim the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Championship via unanimous decision Friday night at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

Cheered on by local MMA fans, Belingon effortlessly picked Nguyen apart in the stand-up, jolting the two-division titleholder with stunning left hooks and perfectly-executed spinning back kicks.

Kevin Belingon

Kevin Belingon

With his dominant show in the five-round show, Belingon earned the nods of the three judges.

He was overjoyed by his win, saying: “I can’t explain this feeling, I’m the happiest athlete tonight. Thank you to all the people who came out to support me, and of course to ONE Championship, my team, my coaches and trainers, and my teammates.”

Showing his magnanimity, Belingon said he was honored to fight a great fighter like Nguyen.

“You’re such a great athlete and champion. I trained very hard for this fight, just to get this belt. I’m proud to be a champion representing the Philippines,” he added.

He’s now looking to face Bibiano Fernandes.

“I respect him (Fernandes) as a champion, but we’re in the same weight class and I’m the top contender. So there is no escape in facing me. I hope you recover fast and we can make the fight this year,” he declared.

Meantime, Eduard “Landslide” Folayang turned in another complete performance and beat Aziz Pahrudinov of Russia.

Folayang operated behind a relentless stream of leg kicks that left Pahrudinov hampered throughout the three-round contest.

In the co-main event of the evening, former ONE Lightweight World Champion Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki of Japan scored a first-round stoppage victory over Thai martial arts superstar Shannon “OneShin” Wiratchai.

It quickly became the beginning of the end for Wiratchai just minutes into the first round, as he was effortlessly taken down by Aoki.

The victory earned Aoki GoDaddy Knockout of the Night honors.

Brazilian legend Renzo Gracie made a triumphant return after eight long years, having his hand raised in victory at the expense of Japanese martial arts pioneer Yuki Kondo.

Following a lengthy feeling-out process between the two grizzled veterans in the first round, Gracie shifted gears in the second frame and immediately drove his foe to the mat. Taking Kondo’s back, Gracie fastened a wrenching rear naked choke with no hesitation, which left his opponent no choice but to tap.

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