Honorio Banario has yet to go the distance as a professional. | Photo: Taro Irei/Sherdog.com
Former One Fighting Championship featherweight titleholder Honorio Banario wants to reclaim the belt he lost a little more than six months ago.
Lakay MMA’s Banario will get his opportunity when he faces Koji Oishi, the man who dethroned him, in the One FC 13 “Moment of Truth” main event on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines. Oishi knocked out “The Rock” in the second round of their May 31 encounter.
Although he was born, raised and still lives in the Philippines, Banario as a child found himself drawn to the Chinese martial art of Wushu rather than the Filipino arts of Eskrima and Kali.
“I am not sure how it happened,” Banario said. “I began training in Wushu in school, and I loved every second of it. I began moving up the ranks, and that is when I met coach Mark [Sangiao] and the rest of the guys at Team Lakay.”
Banario spent years training and competing in Wushu, as he wanted to master the art before progressing to MMA -- a sport in which he had also been interested from childhood.
“I thought MMA was very exciting for the longest time, but we were actively pursuing medals in Wushu,” Banario said. “Team Lakay is my family, and I do all my training here. I have always trained exclusively with coach Mark since l was part of the Wushu- Sanshou Junior National Team in the Philippines and represented the country during international Sanshou competitions. At the same time, we began to train and compete in MMA, until we had improved our MMA [skills]. Once that phase of our careers was over, we all moved to MMA.”
Banario remained undefeated for the first two years, as he dominated the Universal Reality Combat Championship. He captured the URCC lightweight crown in his fourth fight, successfully defending it twice. In February 2012, he received the call to One Fighting Championship, and although he suffered a submission loss in his promotional debut, he rebounded to become the organization’s first featherweight champion.
“URCC is great at promoting the fights at a grassroots level, and I would not be where I am today without them,” Banario said. “One FC does everything bigger and better, including the level of opponents that I face.”
The lure of bigger and better competition led to a matchup with Oishi on May 31. It was a back-and-forth battle in which Banario knocked down the Pancrase veteran in the first round. Oishi returned the favor in the second and ultimately stopped him with punches.
“I was so close to finishing him in the first round; I think I got ahead of myself and was too eager to finish him in the second,” Banario said. “It was a moment of complacency that cost me. This time I will not let him off the hook. I’m knocking him out.”