Adrian “The Hunter” Pang hates losing. But more than anything else, he despises leaving the cage not feeling like he put on a show for the crowd in attendance.
While Pang (22-11-2) admits he was dealing with a knee injury that hampered his movement, it was Singapore’s Khan who ultimately deployed an intelligent strategy to stick and move in an effort to avoid any big exchanges. That resulted in a unanimous decision victory for the hometown hero.
“They had a real smart game plan of hitting and moving,” the 40-year-old Aussie recalls.
“I would say if maybe my knee was better, I could have chased him down, and that is what I like to do. I like to hunt people down, but I was really limited with my movement. He played it smart.
“I am not taking anything away from him. Something is always going to be wrong. I really thought I could have put one on his chin, and put him away. But he got away with it, so good on him.”
Coming out of that contest, Pang allowed time for his knee to heal before finally returning to action. According to the ONE Championship veteran, he received a call from his doctor on a Wednesday advising him that he was cleared to train again, and he was on the phone with the promotion’s matchmaking committee to book his next bout the following day.
Banario is a former ONE Featherweight World Champion who has experienced a career resurgence ever since recreating himself as a lightweight. The 28-year-old Benguet, Philippines native has won his last four bouts in a row, including back-to-back finishes via armbar and knockout.
The bout will also serve as Pang’s opportunity to rebound from a three-bout skid, which accounts for the longest stretch in his career without a victory.
Pang admits it stings to have that kind of losing streak on his record, but he is not exactly looking at this match-up with Bonario as a ‘do-or-die’ scenario for his career. Instead, the Aussie is only worried about one thing as he approaches the tilt on 20 April.
That one thing is putting on a good show for the thousands inside the Mall Of Asia Arena, and the billions watching around the world.
“It is funny. I have never lost three in a row in my career, but here we are,” Pang begins.
“Now, I am facing someone who has four wins in a row, and I really like it, because I know the whole Team Lakay is really tough. He comes forward, he tries to engage standing, grappling, and everything.
“Let’s hope he does the same thing here, and we will just collide in the middle. I know he comes to bring it. That whole team does, so I am definitely excited about it.”
As far as his longterm goals go, Pang is not placing any unrealistic expectations on himself until after he gets the win over Banario at ONE: HEROES OF HONOR.
At 40 years of age, the Australian knows he has far less time in front of him than what is left behind in his career. Still, do not expect this cagey veteran to go anywhere else any time soon, except back into the gym to get ready for his next opponent.
Pang wants to keep competing for the foreseeable future, and mainly wants to put on thrilling matches that will keep fans buzzing.
“I’ve still got it. I still feel great,” he says. “I still feel I can keep doing it. I just want exciting contests. I have had titles, and that ONE Lightweight World Championship would have been a real dream to me.
“When I lost to [Eduard] Folayang, that was the number one contender’s bout, and the winner would have gone on to the title. Folayang ended up knocking out Shinya [Aoki], and I feel that could have been my night.
“I came up short my last few bouts, so I am not thinking about the title now. I just want good, exciting contests.”