Ever since moving to lightweight last April of 2016, Honorio Banario (12-6) has seen a career resurgence.
Lighter on his feet and still displaying the same power he had at featherweight, the 27-year-old has picked up four straight wins in his new home — including two straight finishes. And he impressed on Friday night after stopping Czech opponent Jaroslav Jartim in just two rounds.
“I would say that, if you looked at my interviews some five years ago, I said that the Philippines has some of the most talented MMA fighters in Asia. Team Lakay is one of the teams that is leading the way,” ONE Championship CEO Victor Cui opined.
“I always believe that if you give them a global platform to shine and challenge them to the highest levels of competition, they would shine. Some would falter, some would shine but that is what competition is all about.”
As Banario ascends the lightweight ladder, there will come a point when he will become the number one contender for the division — a division dominated by Team Lakay teammate and brother-at-arm Eduard Folayang.
For the Baguio native, he shared that he is contented to be a gatekeeper in the division as never in his wildest dreams will he ever face a teammate.
“Last year pa tinatanong ‘yan sa akin. Bakit ko lalabananan ang family ko? Magkakagulo kami at ‘di na kami magkakapatid. Magiging may gap na, may wall na sa inyo,” the seven-year fight veteran said.
“Sa akin, I will just wait for my time to come. Naranasan ko naman maging champion. Sa akin naman, masaya ako na nanalo siya at mahawakan niya ng matagal ng belt,” the former ONE Featherweight World Champion added.
Cui begged to differ, though, saying that it’s something the two have to work on when the time comes that Banario becomes Folayang’s mandatory challenger.
“That’s a challenge you see in mixed martial arts quite a lot, having two guys from the same camp [become contenders],” Cui said.
“That’s something that they have to work on.
“For me, I want to put together the most exciting fights for the fans and top ranked contenders that deserve a title shot fighting. That’s what we’ll continue to do,” he continued.
But Banario believes that his time will come someday.
“Sa akin, gusto kong manalo pa. May time din na ako ang hahawak sa belt at magiging two-division champion ako,” Team Lakay’s Rock declared.