It seems a long time ago that Honorio Banario became the first ever ONE Championship featherweight champion. Eight years have passed since the Filipino first had that belt strapped around his waist.

These days Banario is competing as a lightweight. He is coming off a split decision win over Shannon Wiratchai at ONE: ‘King of the Jungle’ in January and says he will look back at 2020 with fond memories,

“My biggest accomplishment this year is returning to the winning track in my career, also, watching my son grow. Just seeing him crawl and seeing him start to walk and speak, it’s a great feeling and it makes me happy,” said Banario.

Highs and lows

Banario has experienced highs and lows during his ONE Championship career. After winning the title he went on a five fight losing streak that lasted three years.

His status as a former champion means the 31 year old is unlikely to be handed any easy fights. But Banario says he is ready for the challenges which lie ahead,

“Next year, I want to be more productive, continue winning, and stay strong. There are a lot of tough challenges waiting for me in my career, a lot of strong opponents. I want to be ready to face them and keep coming out on the winning end,” said Banario.

Explosive and exciting

Banario has been the distance seven times during his ONE Championship career. He has four stoppage wins in his 19 fights for the promotion and says this is an issue he is working to address,

“I’m working on a few things, adding a few skills and techniques, and working on my power. I want to end fights quicker. I want to bring back my fire. Fans can expect a more explosive and exciting Honorio Banario next year.”

It is possible that the emergence of genuine Filipino contenders from other camps like Denice Zamboanga will take some of the pressure of Team Lakay. There is always intense scrutiny on the Baguio based fighters and losses tend to provoke an outpouring of questions and criticisms.

It was been a mixed year for the team with Banario one of very few fighters on the roster who emerged from 2020 without registering a defeat. He remains fiercely proud of his team and his training partners,

“I think the string of losses for our team is just another roadblock to greatness. We always learn from our mistakes and come back stronger. I’m very proud of our team. We may not have the best gym, the best equipment, but we have each other. I think that’s more than enough.”

Bouncing back

Team Lakay has had some banner years recently, at one point its fighters held four ONE Championship titles simultaneously. That is an achievement unlikely to ever be replicated but Banario is confident 2021 will be a good year,

“We’re going to bounce back in a big way next year,” he said.

With three losses in his last four fights Banario is some way off being ranked in the top five at lightweight. But confidence is flowing through his veins after the win over Wiratchai and he believes he can win a ONE Championship title in a second division,

“For me, I don’t have any expected opponent to face next year. My goal is to get the belt so I’ll be ready for anyone.”