By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE first Filipino fighter to win a title in ONE Championship, Honorio “The Rock” Banario hit a rough patch but is seemingly back in the groove following a change in how he approaches his career as a fighter.
Now fighting as a lightweight, the former featherweight world champion Banario is taking the ONE arena with renewed enthusiasm, armed with the lessons he learned during a low point in his career.
Lost five straight fights after seizing the featherweight title in 2013, Mr. Banario, 28, said he thought of retiring but eventually reconsidered against it, focusing instead on reinventing himself as a lightweight fighter and picking up a more positive outlook on how he goes about things.
“As a martial artist, it is very important to recreate myself. Everyone was doubting me. It was very hard to keep away from the negativity. But true champions take the negatives and turn them into positives,” said Mr. Banario, who has been fighting as a lightweight since 2016.
“True champions draw strength from defeat. It’s not how hard you fall, but the manner in which you rise again,” he added.
And the change in philosophy has done wonders for him as he has racked five straight victories in ONE, making him one of the fighters on a roll in the promotion.
His last victory came in April this year against Adrian Pang of Australia where he scored a hard-fought split decision victory.
Mr. Banario said much of the resurgence he is experiencing he owes to his team and how it has been encouraging him to continuously work on his game.
“I am very grateful to have a team like Team Lakay. I am happy to be part of it in making history. The good thing about our team is that we are like brothers. We respect each other and we help each other in so many ways. We work as a team and as a family. We are one,” he said.
“I have made it a point to do what I can to improve my grappling. Everyone knows my weakness has always been grappling, but that’s what we do, we focus on plugging those holes and erasing our weaknesses,” he added.
Mr. Banario is once again to take the ONE cage in September where he will co-headline “ONE: Beyond the Horizon” by taking on Amir Khan of Singapore.
The Filipino fighter is looking at the Sept. 8 fight in Shanghai, China, as another opportunity to continue to climb the ladder and put him a position to vie for the lightweight gold.
He, however, acknowledges that it is not going to be easy against Mr. Khan but nonetheless confident that he can perform well as he prepares hard for it and give his all.
“I see the fight as an exciting fight because we are both strikers. I also see it that I am winning this fight,” the amiable Banario said.
“There have been a lot of ups and downs throughout my career, but I am still here. I am still persevering. I am still giving it my all. Win or lose, I will give my best when I step into the ring,” he added.
ONE: Beyond the Horizon is headlined by the women’s straw weight title clash between champion “The Panda” Xiong Jin Nan of China and challenger Smara “Marituba” Santos of Brazil.
By Michael Angelo S. Murillo