I watched with keen interest the slo-mo replay of the supposed illegal blows by Filipino Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon against challenger Bibiano Fernandez of Brazil in their battle for the ONE Bantamweight world title in Tokyo, Japan.
Fernandez declared that he could not continue and took the win and the title by disqualification win.
It was the rule.
The referee saw it the best decision under the circumstances.
Fernandez, who seemed to be leading slightly after two rounds, landed a takedown in the third and immediately took half guard. Belingon attacked from his back, unleashing a couple of elbows.
The way I saw it, the first one landed partially on the right ear of Fernandez and to me, it appeared to be a legal hit. In the process of the attack, Belingon followed it up with another elbow.
But this time, Fernandez was quick-and wise enough to hide his head, and the blow landed on the back of his head. The second one was absolutely an illegal one.
The referee gave Fernandez five minutes to rest after that incident and decide to continue or not.
I’m not sure if there is an automatic rule for disqualification as a result of illegal blow, whether it was intentional or not. Or was the referee given the blanket judgment on this particular instance?
Fernandez did not stand up after the five-minute rest and decided not to continue.
After the referee gave Belingon the red card and the announcement of the technical victory for Fernandez, it looked as though the Brazilian could still go on and fight.
From my years of experience as a professional judge in boxing and MMA, I know when a fighter is unable to continue. Most of the time the doctor is consulted and prodded to go up the stage and talk with the fighter and asses his condition.
In this case, with just one hit on the head, it perplexed me how a fighter of Fernandez’s caliber could not go on and continue.
What disappointed me was he could not seem to accept the explanation of Belingon who approached him while he was on his seat.
Bibiano also appeared to refuse to accept the belt, waving his hands and saying “no”.
Also, it appeared to me that Belingon’s pair of elbow hits were not intentional.
In boxing, if a fighter is hit with illegal yet unintentional blows, he is given five minutes to rest.
But if the referee could sense that the injury was not enough to stop the bout, he will ask the fighter to continue or face a technical knockout loss. This rule prevents a fighter from doing an acting job to gain an unwarranted halt to the fight and get the win.
This is not to put question to the decision of the referee nor the outcome of the game. ONE has the best team of officials and their integrity on the mat are far beyond question. And ONE Championship has its own set of rules that have put them in good stead through the years.
It was just disappointing that we were having a good trilogy of a match with Belingon appearing to recover and making good adjustments. Then this. And who knows?
But as they say, S _ _ T happens.
Nevertheless, I’m glad that ONE Championship founder CEO Chatri Sityodtong is looking at an “automatic rematch.”
Watch out for Belingon vs. Fernandez IV!