Filipino fan-favorite Kevin Belingon (17-5) will look to push past Andrew Leone (8-3) and inch closer to a shot at the ONE Bantamweight World Championship when they meet in the main event of ONE: Heroes of Honor.
The contest is set to take place in Manila, Philippines, on April 20.
Belingon’s long road
Since losing to Bibiano Fernandes in a title challenge back in January 2016, Belingon has managed four consecutive victories against tough opposition in the bantamweight division. Most recently, Belingon earned a unanimous decision victory over Kevin Chung at ONE: Legends of the World. Belingon’s performance was impressive on many fronts but he showed that he could shut down and nullify the game of a tough up-and-coming prospect in the division.
Before that, Belingon finished Reece McLaren in just over a minute in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Filipino stunned McLaren with a looping right hand that allowed him to finish the fight with ground and pound.
In many ways, Belingon has since moved on from being a middling contender in the division to a now serious threat to anybody in the division.
A major opportunity for Leone
Regardless of the outcome against Bibiano Fernandes, Andrew Leone is still regarded as one of the very best in the ONE Championship bantamweight division.
Most recently, Leone was booked to clash with Leandro Issa back at ONE: Immortal Pursuit. At the time, it was thought that the winner of Issa and Leone would likely challenge for the bantamweight strap in the near future, but an injury set Leone back and he was forced to withdraw from the contest.
Leone is used to overcoming adversity. The 28-year-old has battled injuries through his entire career, but a run of good health could see Leone shoot back up into title contention sometime this year.
A fight with Kevin Belingon presents the American with a significant opportunity. If he can top the battle-tested Filipino, he will likely put himself in position to earn the matchup with Issa that unfortunately passed.
Jake Nichols is The Body Lock's Editor in Chief. Previously, he was the MMA Editor at RealSport.