by Mark Mañez
Pasay City - Kevin Belingon added another golden strap for Team Lakay as he methodically outsmarted two-division ONE world champion Martin Nguyen in their interim ONE bantamweight world title clash at the Mall of Asia Arena, Friday night.
Belingon showed more tactical prowess in frustrating "The Situ-Asian" in all five rounds, en route to a masterclass unanimous decision verdict, much to the delight of an expectant home crowd.
"To my team, this is a great honor and a great feeling," said the newly-minted interim bantamweight king. "I trained hard and and fulfilled of getting this belt and i'm proud to say I'm one of the champions for the Philippines with Geje [Eustaquio] and heavyweight champion Brandon [Vera]," he concluded.
Belingon's striking in the first two rounds put Nguyen in a world of disarray to take control of the match.
The crowd started to cheer on Belingon midway in the five-round championship bout as he found holes on Nguyen's defense, resulting in devastating combinations.
Nguyen tried to put Belingon into submission with futility as the latter went unorthodox in the remainder of the bout.
A four-punch blast straight on Nguyen's face, coupled with a spinning haymaker kick finally put the bout out of Nguyen's side.
Belingon hiked up his record to 19-5 and mulled on a rematch with regular bantamweight title holder Bibiano Fernandez in the future. Nguyen, meanwhile dropped to 11 wins and 3 defeats in the procIn other Teleess.
In the co-main event prior to the title bout, former ONE lighweight holder Shinya Aoki made short work on Thai superstar Shannon Wiratchai in their own encounter.
Aoki started slow but found an opening on Wiratchai and fired a hale storm of punches, en route to an RSC - strikes verdict in the first round.
Legendary MMA scion Renzo Gracie made sure his mother and his fans will be impressed of his performance as he put to school Yuki Kondo in Round 2 of their welterweight bout.
Gracie took advantage as Round 2 ticked in and put on Kondo in a world of trouble, leading to a submission verdict.
Meanwhile, Eduard "Landslide" Folayang frustrated erstwhile undefeated Russian champion Aziz Pahrudinov and got the nod of all 3 judges in their own lightweight showdown.
Folayang jacked up his record to 20-6 win-loss stat and has won back-to-back after losing to Nguyen eight months prior. Although falling victim to Pahrudinov’s takedowns early in the first round, Folayang was quick to turn the tide around.
Folayang methodically targeted Pahrudinov’s left leg subsequently taking away the Russian’s takedown ability. By the end of the third round, Pahrudinov (20-1) couldn’t control the match in the ground allowing Folayang to dictate the fight standing up.
Pahrudinov managed to connect on some stiff punches late in the fight but Folayang had the bout already in the bag by that point.
In other televised bouts, Garry Tonon trudged Rahul Raju via Rear-naked choke with 1:33 remaining in the opening stanza; Chris Ngimbi escaping with a split verdict over Armen Petrosyan; and Panicos Yusuf hacking out a unanimous result over Han Zi Hao.
Joshua Pacio and Rene Catalan made it a clean 4-for-4 for the Filipinos as they respectively stopped their opponents in the curtain raiser.
Pacio sent Pongsiri Mitsatit into submission (via armlock) while Catalan chipping out Stefer Rahardian with his own unanimous verdict from the judges.
Chamuaktong Fightermuaythai and Xie Bin also won their bouts over their respective opponents in the other preliminary bouts. Chamuaktong breezing past Brown Pinas (Unanimous Decision) while Xie Bin defeated Sor Sey of Cambodia via guillotine.
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