Igorot wushu fighter eyes ‘lasting impression’ win for title match on April 21

BAGUIO CITY –- Cordillera’s Team Lakay stalwart Kevin Belingon is eyeing a win with a “lasting impression” over Finnish foe Toni Tauru when they meet in the cage for the ONE Championship: Kings of Destiny on April 21 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

ONE Championship: Kings Of Destiny features three Cordillera-based Team Lakay fighters – Gina Iniong who will face Filipino-British Natalie Gonzales Hills, and the main event between ONE lightweight world champion Eduard Folayang and EV Ting for the lightweight championship belt.

Belingon, also known as “The Silencer”, has been fighting erratically since joining the professional ranks five years ago, but in his 19th outing, he is seeking nothing less than a statement-making victory against Tauru to cement his identity in mixed-martial arts (MMA.)

“I always want to give fans an exciting fight and a good finish. Unfortunately, they didn’t have that in my last fight against Gafurov. In my upcoming fight, I’m going to give my best. You will see fireworks on April 21st,” he told Baguio media.

The 28-year old Belingon was talking about his last fight against Tajikistan fighter Muin Gafurov last October. It was a unanimous decision for the Baguio wushu sanshou practitioner who was also looking for an impressive victory, which did not happen due to the strategic nature of the bout. Gafurov just did not give him the chance for the win Belingon had in mind.

“I wanted to finish Gafurov, but that’s not how the fight went. I needed another way to defeat him,” he shared.

From bell to bell, the one-time ONE Championship bantamweight title challenger banked on his lashing leg kicks and takedown defense to keep Gafurov at bay.

Belingon continued to dictate the pace of the match in the third and final frame, where he maintained his distance by consistently telegraphing his leg kicks while making Gafurov hesitate to cut the gap with his signature left hook.

Although Belingon’s method of defeating Gafurov was starkly different from his usual fighting style, he plans to win his fans over again as the 5-foot-5 Team Lakay standout is known for his highlight-reel finishes.

In previous matches, Belingon punched Australian stalwart Than Vu to a knock out win a minute into the second round in April 2013. He unleashed a high kick before following up a volley of power punches to bring Vu to the mat for the count.

This was followed by a loss against Japanese Masakatsu Ueda in May the same year, and then knock-out of David Aranda Santacana in December. Against Santacana, Belingon uncorked a thunderous left hook to send the Spaniard to the canvass with less than seven minutes left in the first round.

This was again followed by a rear-naked choke loss against South Korean Dae Hwan Kim in March 2014. Belingon avenged his loss against Ueda by a unanimous decision against Japanese Koetsu Okazaki in December that year. Then another submission loss against Brazilian Bibiano Fernandes in January last year.

This time around, Belingon stressed that if the opportunity to score an early finish presents itself against Tauru, he will not think twice to grab it.

“Of course, I want that finish. I am always looking for that. If there’s an opening to get the knockout or submission, I will go for that in a split second,” he said. Sam Bautista/PNA-northboundasia.com