Training with a gridiron full of World Champions at the famed Team Lakay, Honorio “The Rock” Banario of Baguio City, Philippines is paving his way through a heavily-stacked lightweight division.
The former ONE Featherweight World Champion embarked on an unprecedented run through the ranks after moving up a weight class with six wins and just one loss over the past two years against high-level opposition.
Despite dropping a submission loss to Amir Khan, Banario refused to end the year on a sour note. So he put together a solid unanimous decision win over Rahul “The Kerala Krusher” Raju last November 2018. With momentum on his side, Banario has his eyes set on the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix.
He faces Lowen Tynanes in Manila on January 25 in the quarterfinal of the tournament.
“I learned a lot in 2018 and I’m going to learn a lot more this 2019,” says Banario. “I think the biggest lesson for me is to continue to stay hungry to learn, and to achieve more.”
The Baguio City native is one of the top eight lightweights who will be competing in four separate quarterfinal matches.
The winner of the tournament will eventually challenge the holder of the ONE Lightweight World Title, whoever that may be. Currently, the belt is held by Banario’s teammate Eduard “Landslide” Folayang.
The Team Lakay veteran was the first to hold the featherweight title.
His reign was short-lived when Koji Oishi knocked him out on the second round back in his first title defense in May 2013. Banario lost the rematch with the same result months later.
But regardless of his downfall, Banario ultimately decided to push forward with his career and wound up with a nifty little run in a new weight class.
“I plan to show that I am one of the best lightweights in the promotion, and there’s a lot of buzz surrounding our division because of the tournament,” says Banario. “And because there’s a new crop of athletes who joined ONE there’s a lot of pressure to perform.”
One of the most notable names in the stacked ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix is Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez, a recent acquisition who was the former UFC Lightweight Champion.
Banario says that although facing Alvarez down the road would be a privilege, he will take on anyone the promotion puts in his path.
“I would be happy to put on a show for the fans against anyone ONE puts me in the cage with.
“It doesn’t’ matter, I am confident in myself and my team. Through hard work we will achieve great things.”
When asked about a potential face-off with his stablemate Folayang, Banario simply answered that he would not fight his teammate but is definitely excited to make a run at being the last man standing in the eight-man tournament.
“It is a great way to really see who is the best in the division, apart from my brother Eduard Folayang who’s the World champion.
“I am definitely aiming to be the Grand Prix tournament champion. That’s my number one goal in 2019.”