By Rafael Bandayrel
Honorio “The Rock” Banario is a man on a mission as he attempts to reclaim his once lofty spot in the echelon of ONE Championship’s lightweight division.
The inaugural featherweight champion is scheduled to lock horns with undefeated Hawaiian Lowen Tynanes to kick-start the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix in the co-main event of ONE: Hero’s Ascent on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“This will be a good fight because this will test if I have really improved my wrestling. Lowen Tynanes is something else, he has good wrestling and a high-level athlete. He’s a very well-rounded martial artist,” said the Team Lakay stalwart.
“It’s a big challenge for me to get in the cage with him. My team was surprised when we found out that he will be my first opponent for the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix. But we have a lot of time for training so we came up with a game plan to beat him,” he added.
Since losing his ONE featherweight crown in 2013, Banario has witnessed his Team Lakay brothers Eduard Folayang, Kevin Belingon, Joshua Pacio, and Geje Eustaquio rise to stardom.
For a while the 29-year-old fighter seemed on his way to another title opportunity but his six-fight winning streak was snapped by Singapore’s Amir Khan, who tapped the Filipino out with a rear-naked choke last September in China.
Before the year ended, Banario bounced back with a unanimous decision win over India’s Rahul Raju.
A win against Tynanes would put Banario closer to a potential matchup with ex-UFC champ Eddie Alvarez who’s also part of the tournament.