Banario not taking slumping foe lightly as he kickstarts bid for ONE lightweight title
Honorio Banario looks to get another title run going, this time in the ONE lightweight division. Marlo Cueto

FORMER ONE featherweight champion Honorio Banario considered his long layoff an advantage after taking a break for a year before his battle against Adrian Pang in the Heroes of Honor card on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Banario last fought in April of last year when he knocked out Jaroslav Jartim to cap off his fourth straight win following a hellish five-fight losing streak.

Despite the potentially momentum killing gap of a year, the Team Lakay standout believes that the break he’s had is something that his body certainly needs as he makes another title run – this time in the lightweight division.

“Nakatulong din yung pagka-off ng matagal kasi yung mga muscles na may wear and tear ka-katraining at kakalaban the previous years, at least naregenerate,” said Banario who currently has 12-6 slate in his MMA career.  

“At least yung feeling ko, mas naka-adjust, malakas, especially my mindset. Parang nagmuni-muni ba ako,” he added.

But while he hasn’t fought for a year, ‘The Rock’ was never really out of the fight scene as he watches and observes what happens from afar, preparing for his ultimate comeback.

“Nag-observe din sa mga fight. Dami din fight na natapos. When I was on vacation, I was just observing what was happening the past 10 months. Looking forward to my next fight. I think ready naman ako,” he said.

His next fight, by any means, is no easy task as he’s slated to take on veteran Pang, 22-11-2, of Papua New Guinea. Though Pang has been on a slump as of late, dropping his last three fights, the 40-year old slugger with a granite chin is no pushover. After all, desperation is the father of innovation which makes Pang a tricky opponent – and Banario knows that.  

“Si Adrian Pang ay kagaya rin namin na warrior siya. Malakas rin ang will at matibay. Wala atang knockout sa talo,” Banario said.

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“He’s a great athlete and I am happy to be competing with him. It’s very interesting because you’re fighting in the ring. Maybe it’s hard, it’s not easy to win this fight but I’ll do my best to get the win.”

The last time Banario fought in a ring was in November 2011 against Patrick Manicad in URCC XX where he won via armbar.

While he admits that it’s gonna take some adjusting for him – granted that he hasn’t competed in a ring for a long time – it’s not an excuse for him to struggle as it’s his job to adapt to wherever the fight game takes him.

“Sa akin medyo parang maga-adapt parin kasi matagal na hindi naglalaro sa ring. Pero di siya disadvantage. We are all fighters. Fighters should adapt to any place where the fight is. I am just ready,” said Banario.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @CAJacinto11