HONORIO “The Rock” Banario wasn’t the same man since he won the One FC featherweight world championship title belt.
And the fearless striker from Baguio City doesn’t want the adulation of his fans to end after he squares off with Japanese submission specialist Koji Oishi in the One FC cage on May 31 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“I still want to be the champion when I get out of that cage,” said Banario, who seized the featherweight belt by stopping compatriot Eric Kelly in the fourth round of their fight in Kuala Lumpur two months ago.
But Banario shouldn’t rely on his first-rate striking skills alone.
Oishi might be old at 35 but the MMA veteran has several tricks on the ground that could leave Banario dumbfounded.
The former lightweight King of Pancrase, a top MMA outfit in Japan, has a solid background in wrestling and karate, and is renowned for putting everything on the line in brawls against some of the best in the business.
“He’s definitely good so I’m working doubly hard with my grappling skills,” said Banario, who holds an MMA record of eight victories—all by submission—and one loss.
The 23-year-old Team Lakay star made history by becoming the first Filipino to win a world title in MMA and the first to ever hold the One FC featherweight belt.
“Things have become different since I won the belt. I’ve become hungrier in my quest to keep it for a long time,” said Banario.
Another thrilling bout of grappling and striking in the cage pits Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes and Koetsu Okazaki for the bantamweight interim title.
Known for his explosive take-downs and lightning-fast strikes, Fernandes has a 13-3 record.