On March 31, 2019, Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes, 39, of Brazil dethroned reigning ONE Bantamweight World Champion Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon, 31, of the Philippines at “ONE: A New Era” at the Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan. But the Brazilian challenger training out of AMC Pankration did not win without controversy.
Fernandes won the title because Belingon was disqualified, which earned the ire of the fans of the Filipino mixed martial artist, who is training out of Team Lakay in Baguio City, Philippines. On April 1, 2019, the Brazilian fighter took to Facebook to explain his side and accused his Filipino rival of not displaying honor and integrity during their bout.
Olivier Coste served as the referee of the ONE Bantamweight World Championship bout between Belingon and Fernandes, the first of the three co-main events of the evening. It was a trilogy bout between the two bantamweights.
In the second round, Coste put a stop to the contest in the second round and gave a red card to Belingon, who was disqualified due to illegal elbow strikes. While Fernandes was announced as the new ONE Bantamweight World Champion, he refused to celebrate and have his hand raised by Coste.
Fernandes quickly left the cage and the second co-main event of the evening immediately followed. He solely represented Brazil at “ONE: A New Era” while Belingon was one of the three fighters from the Philippines on the card.
“ONE: A New Era” featured 11 MMA bouts and four ONE Super Series matches, which included two kickboxing contests and two Muay Thai contests. It was the first ever ONE Championship event to take place in Japan.
During the post-fight press conference for “ONE: A New Era,” ONE Championship chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong confirmed that based on technicalities, Fernandes is the new ONE Bantamweight World Champion. However, the Brazilian fighter refused to accept the belt so there will be an automatic rematch between him and Belingon, Chatri said.
Watch all the “ONE: A New Era” post-event conference here: