‘The Silencer’ meets American Leone

In Photo: The Philippines Kevin Belingon (left) and American Andrew Leone face off before the media.

FILIPINO mixed martial artist (MMA) Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon tests the mettle of American Andrew Leone as Asia’s premier MMA organization, ONE Championship, returns to Manila for its second of four shows in 2018.

Belingon and Leone square off in ONE: Heroes of Honor set this Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The protagonists were presented in a press preview at the Grand Ballroom of the City of Dreams in Manila on Tuesday afternoon. They were joined by of ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong, global kickboxing superstar Giorgio “The Doctor” Petrosyan and his opponent “Smokin” Jo Nattawut of Thailand.

The Baguio City pride Belingon (17-5), currently riding a four-bout winning streak, takes on former bantamweight world title challenger Leone (8-3) in a contest with huge title implications—each seeking a rematch with reigning bantamweight world champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes, but they will have to go through each other to secure the shot.

“I know Andrew Leone is a tough opponent, and I need to be at my best to win. It’s going to be one of my biggest matches to date,” Belingon said. “I am very thankful to ONE Championship for allowing me to be a part of this historic event. I can’t leave anything to chance. I have to give another great performance. Beating Leone would be the next step to the title.”

Leone also knows what’s at stake and isn’t taking the Filipino lightly.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for me. I can’t wait to go up there and show what I can do, to perform to the best of my ability,” Leone said. “Kevin Belingon is a tough guy. He’s a hard puncher and he has power. But I’m not worried about his striking. I’ve faced tough guys before. All I can say is that I’ll be ready.”

ONE: Heroes of Honor also marks the world premiere of the highly-anticipated ONE Super Series.

Announced earlier this year, ONE Super Series aims to provide the world’s best martial artists a prestigious global platform to showcase the beauty of Asia’s striking arts such as muay, kickboxing, karate, taekwondo, kung fu, wushu, sanda, silat, lethwei, among others.

“It’s an open invitation to the greatest strikers in the world,” Sityodtong said. “Fans will witness the absolute elite in striking martial arts, as they go head-to-head on the biggest and most prestigious global stage of competition.”

With ONE Super Series, ONE Championship is now considered the largest martial arts organization in the world. While competing promotions do offer a similar product, according to Sityodtong, they only offer one flavor of martial arts as opposed to ONE Championship which hosts bouts across all styles of martial arts.

“Aside from the many great bouts this Friday night, what I’m most excited about is the launch of ONE Super Series. ONE Championship is the only global player to encompass all styles of martial arts,” Sityodtong said. “We have the best in all styles going up against each other. That’s definitely something to look forward to.”

Making his appearance in the co-main event of the evening, kickboxing elite Giorgio Petrosyan is elated at his chance to leverage

ONE Championship’s massive worldwide audience reach. Broadcast to a potential 1.7 billion on any given night to over 136 countries worldwide, ONE Super Series will harness the full potential of ONE Championship’s global influence in order to highlight the greatest in striking martial arts.

And while the promotion is gearing up for a very busy mid-year, Sityodtong teases that there are plenty more surprises to come, including the highly-anticipated launch of ONE Championship’s new mobile app, slated to arrive in the coming months.

“The new ONE Championship mobile app is a true game changer in the world of martial arts,” Sityodtong said. “Soon, fans will have access to all our blockbuster live events and complete library of Hi-Definition content in the palm of their hands, all for free, and you can watch from anywhere in the world. It’s going to take ONE Championship to the next level.”

Sityodtong also revealed plans to establish a professional boxing league and is inviting the best boxers from the Philippines and around the world to join the promotion.

Also in attendance at the press conference were main card competitors Honorio “The Rock” Banario of Team Lakay and his opponent Adrian “The Hunter” Pang of Australia, as well as various ONE Championship athletes who mixed in with the crowd and participated in the festivities.



Image Credits: Alysa Salen

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Turning Points 2018