Baguio City’s veteran striker Honorio “The Rock” Banario (10-6) is ready to return to the ONE Championship cage next Friday, 2 December at ONE: AGE OF DOMINATION. The 27-year-old lightweight standout is scheduled to face Indian boxer Rajinder “Knockout” Singh Meena (8-2) in a three-round undercard bout.
Banario, a winner of his last two fights, says he is wrapping up training and ready to make the trip down to Manila for fight night.
“I’m a hundred percent ready to go back in there again. In victory or in defeat, I will never stop doing what I love to do,” said Banario.
“I never stop training. I train all year round. Whether I have an upcoming fight or not, I’m always prepared. True martial artists are always in search of perfection of their craft. I can’t wait to go back inside the cage and show the world how much better I have gotten.”
Banario’s opponent, Singh Meena, is expected to give him another stiff challenge. Singh Meena has eight victories on his fight resume, but more impressively, all of his victories have come by exciting finish which includes five submissions and three knockouts.
Because both fighters do not know how to back down and will most likely engage in a fan-friendly affair, Banario fully expects fireworks for however long the fight will last.
“I know this fight against Rajinder will be really exciting. He is a good fighter. I respect what he has been able to do inside the cage. It’s not easy,” said Banario.
“We’re both really good in striking and grappling. It should be interesting. I’m a hundred percent prepared. I trained and sparred with Eduard [Folayang] for this fight, and I think I’m in great condition.”
Folayang, of course, won the ONE Championship world lightweight title just a couple of weeks ago in Singapore. The SEA Games wushu gold medalist dethroned Japanese MMA legend Shinya Aoki, stopping the now former champion in three rounds.
Banario says the win has inspired him to train harder.
“It was such a joy to watch my friend and brother win the title. I am happy for him. It is an amazing feeling because I know I was able to help him achieve his goals,” said Banario. “We always try to help each other in training, and we have improved a lot together.”
The former ONE Featherweight World Champion himself, Banario is no stranger to adversity. Banario won the featherweight strap back in 2013 only to lose it in his first defense against Japanese foe Koji Oishi who needed just one punch to knock Banario out cold.
It was a forgettable experience for Banario, who blamed a weakened state for the loss.
“When I was a featherweight, I had such a hard time making the featherweight limit. It’s so hard to cut weight, it’s the hardest thing about being a fighter,” said Banario. “Back then, I had to cut 12-15 kilos every single time. I was always drained for fights. When Koji [Oishi] hit me then, I wasn’t really that hurt. But because of the massive weight cut, I felt very weak.”
ONE Championship has since imposed new weight management policies, which discourages drastic weight cuts and instead allows fighters to compete at their natural “walking weights”. Banario credits the move up for his most recent success.
“Ever since I moved up to lightweight, I feel so much stronger. This is my natural fighting weight, I am a lightweight fighter,” said Banario. “I just feel reinvigorated. My punches and kicks are powerful, my body is sturdy, my mind is strong.”
Banario is a victor of his two most recent bouts -- comprehensive decision victories over highly-regarded opponents Vaughn Donayre and Eddie Ng. The performances have showcased Banario’s improved grappling skills and overall well-roundedness.
It’s the best Banario has looked since he became a professional mixed martial artist six years ago.
“Manila, get ready for me! I cannot wait to perform once again in front of the Filipino people. It is always an honor. I would like to say thank you for all the support,” said Banario. “I cannot wait to show how much I have improved as a fighter in the last few months.”