In a Facebook Live Q&A session with fans last Thursday, April 2, ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong fielded questions from fans on a wide-range of topics covering the organization’s future plans, as well as its launch of the highly-anticipated ‘The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition.’
Among the topics included a potential fifth match between reigning ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes of Brazil and former titleholder Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon of the Philippines.
The two martial arts athletes first met in January of 2016. Belingon was then the bantamweight division’s hottest prospect, while Fernandes enjoyed a solid reign as champion. “The Flash” needed less than a round to dispose of Belingon, who had not yet completely rounded out his game, as his grappling skills were certainly lacking.
To earn a rematch, Belingon put together an unprecedented six-bout winning streak, which included victories over top talents Muin Gafurov, Reece McLaren, and former two-division ONE World Champion Martin Nguyen.
In November of 2018, Belingon finally earned a rematch with Fernandes, and he took home the title via close split decision.
The rubber match would take place in March of 2019 in Tokyo, Japan, but ended controversially after Belingon was disqualified for blows to the back of the head. Fernandes would earn back the title but not in a manner he was content with, nor fans were happy with, and so a fourth match was ordered immediately.
In October later that year, the two returned to Tokyo to settle the score once and for all. Fernandes forced Belingon to tap out to a rear naked choke in the second round, legitimizing his victory months prior.
“First of all, I love Kevin and I love Bibiano. The bad blood they had was very, very real. From my understanding, the bad blood (now) isn’t as bad anymore,” said Sityodtong
“But I think Kevin is going to have to win a few to earn his title shot back with Bibiano.”
Sityodtong obviously believes there is a cause for a fifth contest, but that Belingon will have to work his way up the ranks once more.
The 40-year-old Fernandes has yet to defend his title since his latest victory over Belingon. ONE Championship’s bantamweight division is deep with talent, so expect there to be no shortage of intriguing matchups for both men.
Sityodtong, at the very least, believes both Fernandes and Belingon will meet again in the near future.
“Bibiano is an incredible champion, one of the best pound-for-pound in history of the entire sport. He’s just a completely dominant champion. But Kevin is also. Kevin rightfully won the belt as well,” Sityodtong concluded.
“If you ask me, I’d bet Kevin and Bibiano are going to fight again, at some point.”