For the first time in ONE Championship history, Brazilian Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes was on the losing end of a decision, falling to Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon of the Philippines via split decision in the main event of ONE: HEART OF THE LION in Singapore last 9 November.
The loss also dethroned Fernandes as the ONE Bantamweight World Champion, ending his five year reign as the division’s top dog.
It was Fernandes’ first loss in 14 bouts, and his first loss in the Singapore-based promotion.
The bout was nothing short of a five-round classic with the action being closely-contested, making a potential third bout between the two bantamweight stars even more likely.
Talking to MMAFighting.com’s Guilherme Cruz, Fernandes says he will no doubt be meeting Belingon again thanks to a rematch clause in his ONE contract.
“I will fight him,” says Fernandes. “It’s in my contract. If I lost the belt, we would automatically do a rematch. I had that in my contract way before this fight. Especially in a loss like this, I’m glad I have this clause.”
Furthermore, the man who’s considered as the most dominant champion in ONE history believes that it would be unacceptable on his part to not get a rematch, given the circumstances.
“If I had lost, if he had submitted me or broke me, he’s the champion, leave it be,” he says. “But the way it was, I didn’t lose the fight. We have to do a rematch. Honestly, I don’t feel I lost that fight, so my conscience is very clear. I didn’t lose that fight. I didn’t lose to Kevin. I lost to the judges, but not to Kevin.”
Fernandez’ remarkable reign as the undisputed ONE Bantamweight World Champion began in Singapore back in 2013.
His return to the Lion City wouldn’t be as kind however, as he would see his title reign come to an end in front of a partisan crowd that was rallying behind his Filipino opponent.
Singapore is known to have a large Filipino population, and a number of them made their presence felt come event night.
“Thousands of fans there, and I think half of them were Filipinos.
“I was alone there against Kevin, the judges and the fans. Anything he did would drive the crowd nuts. If I lose, I lose, I don’t cry about it, but I think the judges were affected by the fans. I’m a fighter and I do my best, but I can’t fight against the judges and the fans.”
Now, for the first time in five years, Fernandes is not the ONE Champion, but he maintains that he won’t be without the title for long.
“I fought a great fight against Kevin and unfortunately the decision didn't go my way. I'm excited to get back into training, face Kevin and get my belt back."