Fireworks expected in Banario's showdown against Singh Meena
MANILA, Philippines – Baguio City’s Honorio “The Rock” Banario is ready to return to the ONE Championship cage on December 2 as he faces Indian boxer Rajinder “Knockout” Singh Meena in an undercard bout at ONE: Age of Domination.
The 27-year-old Banario, who enters with a two-fight winning streak, is wrapping up training and ready to make the trip down to Manila for fight night.
“I am 100% ready to go back in there again,” said Banario. “In victory or defeat, I will never stop doing what I love to do.”
“I never stop training,” he added. “I train all year round. Whether I have an upcoming fight or not, I’m always prepared. True martial artists are always in search of perfection of their craft.”
“I can’t wait to go back inside the cage and show the world how much better I have gotten.”
Banario’s opponent, Singh Meena, is expected to give him another stiff challenge. Meena has eight victories on his fight resume, all of which have come via exciting finishes, which include five submissions and three knockouts.
As both players don’t know how to back down and will most likely engage in a fan-friendly affair, Banario fully expects fireworks for however long the bout will last.
“I know this fight against Rajinder will be really exciting,” he said. “He is a good fight. I respect what he has been able to do inside the cage. It’s not easy.”
“We’re both really good in striking and grappling,” he added. “It should be interesting. I’m 100 percent prepared.”
Banario said he trained and sparred against Eduard Folayang for the lightweight fight. Folayang is coming off a momentous victory two weeks ago, when he stunned Japanese MMA legend Shinya Aoki to win the lightweight title in Singapore.
Folayang’s victory has been a source of inspiration for other Filipino fighters — and Banario is no exception.
“It was such a joy to watch my friend and brother win the title,” Banario said. “I am happy for him.”
“It’s an amazing feeling, because I know I was able to help him achieve his goals. We always try to help each other in training, and we have improved a lot together.”
Banario, himself a former ONE featherweight world champion, is no stranger to adversity. He won the featherweight belt in 2013, but lost it in his very first defense as he was summarily knocked out by challenge Koji Oishi with just one punch.
It was a forgettable experience for Banario, who blamed his weakened state for the loss.
“When I was a featherweight, I had such a hard time making the featherweight limit,” he admitted. “It’s so hard to cut weight – it’s the hardest thing about being a fighter.”
As a featherweight, Banario had to cut 12 to 15 kilos every single time, and thus was always drained for fights. He insists that Oishi’s punch did not hurt him that much, but the massive weight cut left him in such a weakened state that he was unable to recover.
ONE Championship has since imposed new weight management policies, which discourages drastic weight cuts and instead allowed fighters to compete at their natural “walking weights.” Banario took advantage of the new policy, moving up to lightweight where he now “feels so much stronger.”
“This is my natural fighting weight,” he said. “I am a lightweight fighter.”
“I just feel reinvigorated. My punches and kicks are powerful, my body is sturdy, my mind is strong,” he added.
Banario has won his two most recent bouts, registering comprehensive decisions over Vaughn Donayre and Eddie Ng. The performances have showcased Banario’s improved grappling skills and overall game.
“Manila, get ready for me,” he said. “I cannot wait to perform once again in front of the Filipino people. It is always an honor… I cannot wait to show how much I have improved as a fighter in the last few months.”
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