Former ONE bantamweight world champion Kevin Belingon is seriously working on his ground game extensively during his off-season as he received a blue belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu last week.
The 35-year-old spitfire from Kiangan, Ifugao was promoted by Prof. Gibran Langbayan, who possesses a stellar credential as a submission grappler and a black belt under Prof. Leonardo Fernandes.
Langbayan, who earned the distinction as the first BJJ black belt from the Cordillera, awarded the new rank to Belingon at the Maharlika Martial Arts Center.
“It was an unforgettable surprise,” Belingon said of his promotion.
Belingon began his training in jiu jitsu in 2007, the same year he turned pro in mixed martial arts. However, his focus was on his prizefighting career.
Belingon has faced a long list of elite submission artists inside the ONE circle, including Masakazu Imanari, Masakatsu Ueda, Toni Tauru, Reece McLaren, and Bibiano Fernandes.
Even though he has defeated opponents with exceptional grappling backgrounds, Belingon is aware that he still needs to improve in this area.
Last December, he decided to join Langbayan’s classes to advance his skills on the mat. Little did he know that he was ripe to transition from white to blue in only four months.
“This achievement is meaningful to me. All the hard work, the late nights, and the sacrifices are worth it,” he said.
“I still have a long way to go, but I am a patient man. I’m willing to put in the work to get there,” he added.
Belingon was last seen in action in November, bowing to South Korean hard-hitter Kim Jae Woong by way of first-round technical knockout.
He plans to kickstart his road to redemption later this year.
“The priority, of course, is my MMA career. I am here to prove that I’m not yet done and I still have a lot to offer,” Belingon said. – Carlo Quinto