MMA: Ring fight could give edge to Belingon

Dennis Gasgonia, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 17 2018 07:33 PM

Kevin Belingon and Andrew Leone face off at the ONE: Heroes of Honor press conference Tuesday at the City of Dreams Manila. Richard Esguerra, ABS-CBN Sports

MANILA -- Filipino bantamweight Kevin Belingon has no qualms about banging it out with Andrew Leone inside a 5-rope ring instead of inside a cage in the main event of ONE: Heroes of Honor at Mall of Asia Arena on Friday.

The Team Lakay fighter has extensive experience fighting inside the "squared circle" and he even feels that this could be an advantage for him.

"Sa tingin ko advantage ko 'yung marami na akong experience sa ring. Parang nasanay na rin ako," said Belingon, nicknamed "The Silencer," during the ONE: Heroes of Honor press conference Tuesday.

But Belingon admitted there are also some downsides when it comes to fighting a grappler like Leone in the ring.

"Siyempre ingat ingat lalo na sa takedown. Kasi 'pag na-takedown ka sa ring, lalo na sa gilid, hindi ka makakbangon kasi hindi ka makakasandal. So kailangan lagi kami sa center ng ring," said Belingon, who holds a 7-5 record.

Chatri Sityodtong, ONE Championship founder and CEO, explained that they have decided to use a 5-roped ring for the first time in the history of the promotion as part of the inaugural ONE Super Series which will pit together some of the best strikers in the world.

"The beauty of this as a martial artist, you can test yourself in the cage and in the ring, any environment. If you're truly the best in the world it doesn't matter where it's gonna be," he said.

"That's the idea of experimenting with the ring."

For his part, Leone, a native of Cortland, New York, made no secret about having to use his ground fighting against Belingon.

Leone holds a black belt in jiu-jitsu apart from being a world-class wrestler.

But the American said it doesn't mean he won't stand to strike it out with the Silencer.

"I'm gonna strike with him," he said. "Obviously I have to set up my grappling exchanges but it's not gonna come without strikes." 

"I think he's been able to best some high-level grapplers out there in the past because I think they were trying to pack the fight a little bit in the wrong way."

"I just try to learn from their past failures and do my best out there."

Belingon said they already have a game plan to offset Leone's striking.

"That's what I'm expecting. He'll give me a fake punch then he'll shift to a takedown. I'm ready for that," he said.

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