ONE: Belingon braces for ‘harder’ climb to regain bantamweight crown
MANILA, Philippines — Kevin Belingon remains focused on getting another crack at his rival Bibiano Fernandes and regaining the ONE bantamweight world title.
But the Team Lakay star knows Fernandes isn’t the only fighter he has to be wary of in the stacked bantamweight division.
“I think I’m in one of the toughest divisions in the organization right now. Looking at the top five of the weight class, all I can say is I have to be 100 percent ready when I face either of them,” said Belingon, still the No. 1 ranked contender in the class.
“I am willing to face whoever, because at the end of the day, the goal is to fight for the title again and rule the division once more. So, whoever I face next, you can expect me to be at my best.”
Not to be taken lightly are rising bantamweights Shoko Sato, Yusup Saadulaev, Shuya Kamikubo, Daichi Takenaka and John Lineker, who just signed with the promotion last year.
“The division is getting deeper and deeper. It’s certainly tougher and more talented now,” he said.
“I believe it’s harder to rise to the top of the ladder in this weight class because of all the talent coming into our division.”
After dropping two consecutive matches to Fernandes, the 32-year-old Belingon is aware that he needs to work his way back up again if he is to get another shot to regain the crown.
He vows to do just that.
“I think it’s a free for all. All of those in the rankings have one goal in mind – to get that title shot,” he said. “So I always have to be ready to fight for my spot.”