Honorio Banario: 'I Am Definitely Aiming To Be The Grand Prix Tournament Champion'

Former ONE Featherweight World Champion Honorio “The Rock” Banario’s entire career has been one big learning experience.

The Baguio City, Philippines native has long maintained that he has learned more in defeat than he has in any of his wins. The year 2018, in particular, has taught Banario another tough lesson.

“The Rock” saw his incredible five-bout win streak snapped, as the 29-year-old martial arts veteran went 2-1 in the year. A submission loss to Singapore’s Amir Khan last September, at ONE: BEYOND THE HORIZON, put a screeching halt to his surge through the lightweight ranks.

Now, Banario is determined to get his career back on track.

Honorio Banario’s 2019 is looking ⬆

Honorio 'The Rock' Banario’s 2019 is looking ⬆Download the ONE Super App now ????

Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, December 21, 2018

“I learned a lot this year, and I’m hoping to learn a lot more and grow more this coming 2019,” said Banario.

“I think the biggest lesson for me is to continue to stay hungry to learn, and to achieve more. The loss to Amir once again humbled me, and I was sent back on a path of learning.

“Improving my skills and getting in prime condition, as well as staying active and on my toes, is important to keep my edge. You can’t relax in this game, because things change rapidly all the time. It’s always evolving.”

Banario is right in thinking that 2019 holds even more challenges for his career, with the highly-anticipated ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix looming on the horizon.

The Team Lakay lightweight is no doubt considered one of the top talents in the division despite the setback to Khan, and Banario would love nothing more than to face the best ONE Championship has to offer.

In a scintillating back-and-forth affair, Team Lakay's Honorio Banario defeats Rahul Raju by unanimous decision!

In a scintillating back-and-forth affair, Team Lakay's Honorio 'The Rock' Banario defeats Rahul Raju by unanimous decision!Watch the full event LIVE & FREE on the ONE Super App ???? | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast

Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, November 23, 2018

“Next year, I plan to show that I am one of the best lightweights in the promotion. There is a lot of buzz surrounding our division because of the tournament, and because of the new crop of athletes who joined ONE. There is a lot of pressure to perform,” said Banario.

“I would be happy to put on a show for the fans against anyone ONE puts me in the cage with. It doesn’t matter to me. I am confident in myself and in my team. Through hard work, we will achieve great things.”

One man whom Banario could possibly face in 2019 is multiple-time mixed martial arts World Champion Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez, who made headlines when he decided to bring his career back to Asia to join ONE Championship in October.

As soon as Alvarez officially joined the promotion, every lightweight on the roster clamored for a chance to face him. Alvarez is now booked to face Russia’s Timofey Nastyukhin at ONE: A NEW ERA, set for Tokyo, Japan, on 31 March.

For Banario, getting the call for a bout with “The Underground King” would be the ultimate test.

“If given the chance, I would be more than happy to test my skills against Alvarez. He is a great athlete and a great champion,” said Banario.

“I love the way he fights. He really lays it all out on the line. I’m just as interested as anybody to see how he fares against the best talents in Asia. Timofey [Nastyukhin] is a very dangerous fighter with tremendous knockout power. You can never take a guy like that lightly. I think that bout will answer a lot of questions.”

Although Banario is yet to have a bout scheduled in the new year, the 29-year-old veteran is deep in training, making sure he is as sharp as he can possibly be when he does get the call from ONE Championship.

Banario and the rest of the Philippines’ Team Lakay athletes had a phenomenal 2018. The close-knit group of martial artists was able to bag a whopping four undisputed ONE World Titles over the past 12 months, and it was all due to their incredible dedication to their craft.

Despite experiencing mixed results this year, Banario has big plans for 2019.

“First off, I am looking forward to the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix. It is a great way to really see who is the best in the division, apart from my brother Eduard Folayang, who is the World Champion,” Banario concluded.

“I am definitely aiming to be the Grand Prix tournament champion. That’s my number one goal next year.”