In 2018, Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen, 31, of Australia and Vietnam tried to become the first ever three-division world champion in the history of mixed martial arts. It was Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon, 32, of the Philippines who stopped it from happening.
On August 18, 2017, Nguyen became the ONE Featherweight World Champion by dethroning Marat “Cobra” Gafurov, 35, of Russia at “ONE: Quest for Greatness” in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. On November 23, 2017, the Vietnamese-Australian MMA star became the ONE Lightweight World Champion by dethroning Belingon’s Team Lakay teammate Eduard “Landslide” Folayang, 35.
On July 27, 2018, Nguyen and Belingon competed for the interim ONE Bantamweight World Championship title. The Team Lakay won and became the undisputed ONE Bantamweight World Champion on November 9, 2018 by dethroning Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes, 40, of Brazil in their rematch at “ONE: Heart of the Lion” in Kallang, Singapore.
On March 31, 2019, Fernandez reclaimed the ONE Bantamweight World Championship belt by dethroning Belingon at “ONE: A New Era” in Tokyo, Japan. For the fourth time, they competed at “ONE: Century” on October 13, 2019 in Tokyo and the Brazilian defending champion successfully defended his title.
“Let’s get one thing clear,” Belingon said. “Right now, my mind is on getting another shot at the bantamweight belt. That’s where my main focus is.”
Fernandes first reigned as the ONE Bantamweight World Champion from October 18, 2013 to November 9, 2018. His first encounter with Belingon was on January 23, 2016 at “ONE: Dynasty of Champions (Changsha)” in Changsha, China where the Brazilian champion submitted his Filipino challenger.
“I just feel I have unfinished business here,” Belingon said. “I’m looking at another fight with Bibiano and I’m willing to go through anyone to get it.”
On the other hand, Belingon is still looking forward to fighting Nguyen again but in the featherweight division. The latter vacated the ONE Lightweight World Championship belt on September 28, 2018 but is still the reigning ONE Featherweight World Champion.
“Martin is just a great striker and a good fighter overall,” Belingon said. “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,” Belingon continued. “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,” the Team Lakay fighter added. “I’m just taking things day by day and doing what I need to do to stay sharp. When it’s finally time to get in there again, I’ll be ready.”