When Team Lakay’s Honorio “The Rock” Banario started his career in ONE Championship, he was one of the organization’s top featherweight talents. Not many may recall, but the 30-year-old is the first ONE Featherweight World Champion in history.
Now, the Baguio City native is set to make his return to the division to make another run at the world title.
This Friday, 28 February, Banario takes on Thailand’s Shannon “OneShin” Wiratchai at ONE: KING OF THE JUNGLE in Singapore. The veteran’s return to his original weight class may just give him the competitive edge he needs to allow him to resuscitate his career.
“This is my first match going back down to the featherweight division,” Banario said.
“Here, I am faster, more explosive, and the fans will surely enjoy an exciting match between two hungry veterans looking to make a statement to start the year.”
Banario initially moved to lightweight following a heartbreaking five-bout losing skid. He turned things around, winning his first five contests at lightweight, featuring a renewed fervor and newfound power. However, time has taken a toll on his physicality, and the stress on his body at lightweight proved too much to handle.
“When I first competed at lightweight, I felt good because I was able to bring my power and speed up there and still felt light,” Banario said.
“However, after two years I dealt with injuries and I felt heavier even if I was in peak condition, so I decided to move back down to a more natural weight. Even before my last bout, I wanted to move to featherweight. However, I couldn’t pass on the chance to compete against a legend like Shinya (Aoki).”
Banario also realized during his run at lightweight that he was not at his 100 percent. He feels moving back down to featherweight will do good for his body and for his mental strength.
“My reaction time is a bit later than I want. It’s a huge factor in my decision to move down,” Banario said.
“I believe that moving to featherweight will help bring the best out of me. It also motivates me to work even harder especially after competing in lightweight for quite a while. I can’t relax in my training.”
Team Lakay is off to a great start for the year 2020. For Banario, hard work, determination, and the decision to compete in the featherweight division he hopes will help him get out of his slump and back to his winning ways.
“I just hope to win this one and keep on winning this year. I’m returning to my original weight division, and I want to continue to work my way back up the top,” Banario concluded.