THE first from Team Lakay to win a world title in ONE Championship, Honorio “The Rock” Banario now has his focus on rising anew in the promotion and join his other teammates in the top echelon.
Mr. Banario’s journey continues this weekend as he takes on unbeaten American Lowen Tynanes in the opening round of the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix at “ONE: Hero’s Ascent” on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
It is a crucial match for the former ONE featherweight world champion as he positions himself in the talent-laden lightweight division with the end view of getting a shot at the title down the line.
The Team Lakay stalwart said he recognizes that the road is going to be a tough one but nonetheless vowed to do his best in the Grand Prix, beginning with his clash with Mr. Tynanes.
“This will be a good fight because this will test if I have really improved my wrestling. Lowen Tynanes is something else, he has good wrestling and a high-level athlete. He’s a very well-rounded martial artist,” Mr. Banario (14-7) in the lead-up to Hero’s Ascent, ONE’s first event in the Philippines for 2019.
“It’s a big challenge for me to get in the cage with him. My team was surprised when we found out that he will be my first opponent for the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix. But we have a lot of time for training so we came up with a game plan to beat him,” he added.
The 29-year-old Banario is coming off a victory in his last fight over Rahul K. Raju of India in November last year, winning by unanimous decision.
Since winning the ONE featherweight gold in 2013, Mr. Banario has seen his other stable mates in Team Lakay win their own world titles, namely, Eduard Folayang, twice in lightweight, Kevin Belingon in bantamweight, Joshua Pacio in strawweight, and Geje Eustaquio in flyweight.
Mr. Pacio recently lost his title after bowing to Japanese Yosuke Saruta by split decision on Jan. 19.
Messrs. Folayang and Belingon are reigning champions set to defend their respective titles later this year.
Mr. Eustaquio, meanwhile, is set to defend his title in the main event for Hero’s Ascent against rival and former champion Adriano Moraes of Brazil.
Joining Messrs. Banario and Eustaquio in action on Friday is teammate Danny Kingad in a flyweight battle with Japanese Tatsumitsu Wada. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo