The last time Honorio “The Rock” Banario changed weight classes, he sparked a sensational winning streak and he hopes his return to his natural division can be the catalyst for similar success.
Both men have been mainstays of The Home Of Martial Arts since its first year in business, but remarkably, neither Banario nor any of his Team Lakay stablemates have ever faced the veteran from Bangkok.
Though he recognized Wiratchai is sure to be a tough nut to crack, “The Rock” is hopeful he has worked out a way to recapture the form that took him to the ONE Featherweight World Title and begin another winning run toward the top.
Ahead of his assignment at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, he explains how he plans to do that, as well as his reasons for the big change in his career, and his goals for 2020.
ONE Championship: How much are you looking forward to this match-up?
Honorio Banario: I know that Shannon has prepared really well for this match, and I am confident that my training is also not lacking, so this should be an all-out war.
We are both looking to rebound, so we will see just who is hungrier to get that victory.
ONE: How are your preparations going?
HB: We’ve been training since our last match in October. I am ready to compete anytime because I never stopped training.
I feel like I will be in my best condition come fight night, so expect 100 percent from me when I compete.
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ONE: Are you working on anything new to go against Wiratchai’s unique skill set?
HB: I’m working on improving some of my techniques and adding onto them, so we’ll have a more complete arsenal when we take on Shannon. Hopefully, I can implement them properly in our match.
ONE: Where do you think he’s the most dangerous?
HB: He’s a finisher, for sure, with most of his wins not reaching the scorecards. I think he has a powerful right hook that I have to really watch out for.
I think I’m a bit better at grappling than he is, so I surely need to be careful of that knockout power.
ONE: Wiratchai is quite well-rounded, but do you think there are holes in his game that you can exploit?
HB: I think my striking is more finely tuned than his, so I think that’s where I hope to find a hole in his game.
It’s difficult to assume his weaknesses because chances are he has already improved enough to overcome them. However, the best way to see where to attack him is when we are face-to-face in the Circle, so hopefully, we can find a hole during the match.
ONE: Do you have a prediction on how the match will finish?
HB: I think whoever takes better advantage of their chance at a stoppage will get the victory here.
It will surely be a fast-paced match-up, and while he may pose a difficult challenge as a southpaw, I believe we can overcome it. Being a southpaw is one of his advantages because I will have to constantly adjust to him throughout our match.
ONE: Why do you think fans should be excited to watch out for your match?
HB: This is my first match going back down to the featherweight division. 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.
ONE: What pushed you to move back down to featherweight?
HB: 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.
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).
ONE: What advantages will you have in your natural division?
HB: My reaction time is a bit later than I want. It’s a huge factor in my decision to move down.
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.
ONE: What do you hope a win can lead to in 2020?
HB: 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.