Former ONE Featherweight World Champion Honorio “The Rock” Banario was among the very few bright spots for Team Lakay this year, as the 31-year-old veteran was able to return to his winning capacity with a victory back in February, just before COVID-19 hit.
After the Philippines announced a series of Community Quarantine measures that kept gyms closed and people locked away inside their homes, Banario and the rest of Team Lakay were able to spend some good quality time with their families.
One positive Banario took away from the experience was being able to send more time with his son, Stone.
“My biggest accomplishment this year is returning to the winning track in my career, also, watching my son grow. Just seeing him crawl and seeing him start to walk and speak, it’s a great feeling and it makes me happy,” said Banario.
“I think the biggest lesson I learned, especially in this pandemic, is to stay healthy -- physically, mentally, and spiritually. Watching out for your family’s health and staying positive in times of crisis.”
Banario was last seen inside the ONE Circle last February, when he took apart highly-regarded featherweight contender, Thailand’s Shannon “OneShin” Wiratchai to win by a narrow split decision.
When lockdowns and travel restrictions were eased months later, and ONE was able to resume holding events in Bangkok and Singapore, Team Lakay was one of the first groups to be given fights. Unfortunately, many of the athletes including former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang, former ONE Bantamweight World Champion Kevin Belingon, and rising star Lito Adiwang, suffered heartbreaking setbacks.
Banario wants to remind fans of Team Lakay’s resilience, and promises them something to look forward to in the new year.
“Next year, I want to be more productive, continue winning, and stay strong. There are a lot of tough challenges waiting for me in my career, a lot of strong opponents. I want to be ready to face them and keep coming out on the winning end,” said Banario.
“I think the string of losses for our team is just another roadblock to greatness. We always learn from our mistakes and come back stronger. I’m very proud of our team. We may not have the best gym, the best equipment, but we have each other. I think that’s more than enough.
“We’re going to bounce back in a big way next year,” he added.
After a short stint at lightweight, Banario has since returned to featherweight, where many stark challengers await. Possible matchups include showdowns with Martin Nguyen, Sage Northcutt, and Koyomi Matsushima.
Banario maintains that he never picks and chooses his opponents, but that he can promise to be ready for whoever stands across from him in the Circle. He tells fans he has something special planned for his return in 2021, and that everyone should pay attention to what he will bring to the cage.
“For me, I don’t have any expected opponent to face next year. I’ll be ready for who is in front of me. My goal is to get the belt so I’ll be ready for anyone,” said Banario.
“I’m working on a few things, adding a few skills and techniques, and working on my power. I want to end fights quicker. I want to bring back my fire. Fans can expect a more explosive and exciting Honorio Banario next year.”
Next, ONE Championship returns with ONE: COLLISION COURSE II, a previously recorded event from the Singapore Indoor Stadium scheduled for broadcast on Friday, 25 December.
In the main event, #2-ranked featherweight Muay Thai contender Jamal “Kherow” Yusupov of Russia takes on #4-ranked contender Samy “AK47” Sana of France and Algeria in a ONE Super Series Muay Thai showdown.
In the co-main event, former ONE Flyweight World Champion and #3-ranked flyweight contender Kairat “The Kazakh” Akhmetov faces “Ottogi” Dae Hwan Kim of South Korea in a catch weight mixed martial arts contest.
Watch the event on One Sports or One Sports+ at 8:30 p.m. Philippine Standard Time (PHT). Also, TV5 will air the action on a next-day delay at 11 p.m. PHT on Saturday, 26 December.