At the age of 22, 3 fights into his pro mixed martial arts career, Team Lakay’s Honorio Banario faced, what he felt was the biggest challenge in his young fight career. He had to go one on one with Angelito Manguray at URCC 19 and challenge the undefeated 40 year old veteran for the URCC Lightweight title. It comes as no surprise that no one gave him much of a chance at winning. Many felt that he was too young and too inexperienced to win. Many of those people, were proven wrong. Banario defeated Manguray via rear naked choke in the 2nd round and won the URCC Lightweight title.
This Saturday at ONE FC: Return of Warriors, Honorio Banario finds himself in the same situation as he was back at URCC 19. Banario will be facing Eric “The Natural” Kelly for the inaugural ONE FC Lightweight Championship and it looks like he’s going into this fight as the underdog once again. And once again, Banario plans on proving everyone wrong. Banario wants to show the world that he has what it takes to defeat the fan favorite Kelly and claim the spot as the best featherweight fighter in Asia.
We managed to catch up with Banario to speak with him on facing Eric Kelly, being the underdog and his shot at being crowned the best featherweight in Asia.
TFN: Thank you for taking time off to speak with us. In a little over a week you’re going to have a chance to win the inaugural ONE FC Featherweight title. How do you feel being involved in something so important?
HB: I’m very happy that ONE FC gave me this chance to fight for the title because it’s my dream to become a World Champion someday.
TFN: Much like many of your fellow team mates from Team Lakay, you really worked your way up the ladder to be where you are today. How does it feel to be considered one of the best featherweights in Asia?
HB: I can’t explain what I feel but I am happy that I’m one of the best featherweights in Asia. But I really worked hard to become what I am today.
TFN: You have an impressive record of 7 wins and only 1 loss to Bae Young Kwon. What lessons have you learnt from that loss and how has the loss made you a better fighter?
HB: I’ve learned a lot from that loss and that made me a better fighter. It has made me different this time round. Lessons are sometimes gained from our past experience.
TFN: Even though you have a very impressive record it seems that you are the underdog going into this fight with everyone thinking Eric Kelly will beat you. How do you feel about that?
HB: I’m okay with that even if I am the underdog. I just want to go there do my job, finish the fight and give the people the fight they really want.
TFN: Does it bother you that Eric Kelly has been getting way more attention than you from the fans and media?
HB: No. Not at all. That’s given me more motivation to train harder and to win the fight.
TFN: What do you think is the weakest part of Eric Kelly’s game?-
HB: I can’t talk about it by now but let’s just see when the fight comes.
TFN: What do you think is your biggest advantage over Eric Kelly?
HB: I think my advantage is that I’m taller than him and younger .
TFN: Eric Kelly has won most of his fights via submission. Does that want to make you keep this fight standing? Or are you prepared to go to the ground with Kelly?
HB: I trained hard for this fight and I’m ready for everything. Either standing or on the ground.
TFN: Who has been helping you prepare in your wrestling and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
HB: My teammates are the one helping me in every training and my coach.
TFN: What would winning the ONE FC featherweight title mean to you?
HB: Winning the ONE FC belt is very important to me because it is an achievement that is aimed by any fighter.
TFN: Lastly, what can fans of Honorio Banario expect at ONE FC: Return of Warriors?
HB: To my fans and to Team Lakay fans expect a very explosive and exciting fight. This will be a WAR!