After years of trials and tribulations, former ONE Featherweight World Champion Honorio “The Rock” Banario has recreated himself as one of the most exciting and successful lightweights in ONE Championship.
The Filipino martial artist has authored a stunning career resurgence. He finds himself on a five-bout win streak, and is on the verge of breaking into title contention in his new weight class.
The 28-year-old has worked hard to reach this point, and there has been one Team Lakay member in particular who has always motivated him.
A crucial factor in Banario’s comeback has been former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang.
He has been “The Rock’s” main sparring partner for most of his career, and together, they have been able to help one another become two of the promotion’s top athletes.
“I am extremely honored to have Eduard as a mentor, and as a brother,” the man from Benguet, Philippines says. “I owe a huge part of my success to him.”
For Banario, having “Landslide” in his corner has been a blessing.
In May 2013, “The Rock” lost the ONE Featherweight World Title in his first defense, and in the following two years, he went on to record a five-bout losing skid.
The Filipino hit rock bottom, and at that point, he strongly considered retiring from the sport for good.
Fortunately, Folayang was there to help pick up the pieces. He lifted his Team Lakay stablemate by giving him some much-needed advice, and encouraged him to move forward.
“When I was at the lowest point in my career, he was one of the strongest voices that told me to keep going. He motivated me and gave me hope. He is like my older brother,” Banario explains.
“He is wiser and more experienced. I have learned a lot from him. In training, we push each other to the limit, and it has been great for my development as a martial artist.”
The two have spent extensive time on the mat together, where they have learned and grown in unison.
While their careers have taken different trajectories, their paths always seem to convene on the strength of their unending work ethic.
Banario believes one of his greatest blessings as a martial artist is consistently having a sparring partner to test his mettle. Folayang is able to provide that, which has helped “The Rock” evolve as a competitor.
That evolution has been especially noticeable since his move up to the lightweight division in April 2016, when he defeated Vaughn “The Spawn” Donayre in a three-round thriller.
“Whenever we spar, we really test each other’s limits. I think it is really a good thing that we are able to have each other to push ourselves,” Banario explains.
“Eduard has faced the best lightweights in ONE Championship, and he is at the top of the stack. He was the World Champion — he still is, in my eyes. To be able to train with someone like that, it only makes me a better fighter.”
That startling improvement has propelled Banario to his current five-bout win streak, which has helped him emerge as a major threat in the lightweight division.
For this upcoming contest, the Filipino contender is preparing with Folayang in his training camp in Baguio City, Philippines.
“Eduard’s style is very difficult to deal with,” Banario says.
“He has amazing cardio, and he will keep the pressure on you and never stop. It is exhausting to spar with him, but perhaps his greatest strength is his unwavering will to win.
“Eduard has no quit in him – no matter who he is up against, or how far behind he is in a fight. He will never give up and will continue to push forward. I admire his iron will. He is very mentally strong, and that is one of the things I am trying to pick up from him.”
Their relationship is not just one-way, however. While “The Rock” has picked up a lot from the former lightweight king, he believes he is valuable for Folayang’s development, too.
“I think I learn more from him than he does from me,” Banario says with a laugh.
“But I am grateful that I can also teach him, and help him with his career. He is a pioneer in the Philippine martial arts scene. He has so much knowledge and experience. I learn so much just by training with him.”
Shanghai | 8 September | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast