IF he could win even with an improper diet, imagine what more Honorio Banario can do with a better regimen.
Better prepared this time, Banario makes the first defense of his featherweight title Friday against Koji Oishi of Japan in ONE FC: Rise to Power at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The 23-year-old criminology graduate from Baguio will be putting on the line the very same crown he won over Filipino compatriot Eric Kelly in Malaysia three months ago in a fight that had Banario drastically needing to lose weight in the last two days prior to the match.
Having learned his lesson well, Banario is much better prepared this time as he only had to lose weight four days before his title defense which serves as the main event of the second staging of Asia’s premier mixed martial arts organization in the country.
“Comparing kay Honorio dati, masyado siyang nahirapan noon na halos ayaw na niya,” Team Lakay coach and founder Mark Sangiao admitted when Spin.ph caught up with him after the weigh-in ceremony at the MOA Arena on the eve of the fight.
“Pero ngayon maganda. Hindi mo makikita na may reklamo siya sa pag-diet. Mas komportable siya ngayon.”
Banario, whose diet days heading to the fight includes vegetables and few carbohydrates, is so prepared physically that the first-ever Filipino world MMA champion is now shifting his focus mentally for the biggest fight of his career opposite a Japanese submission specialist in Oishi.
“Kino-kondisyon ko na ang isip ko sa laban,” said Banario, who weighed a shade under the 145-pound limit. “Ready na.”
Sangiao, a former fighter himself, also commended the rest of Team Lakay’s preparations.
Banario’s teammates in Eduard Folayang, Kevin Belingon, Rey Docyogen, and Geje Eustaquio are also set to see action in the undercards.
“Mas maganda `yung pag-cut nila ngayon and `yung diet nila,” said Sangiao, who hopes his boys can atone for the letdown of his other fighters, led by Crisanto Pitpitunge, during the recent Pacific X-Treme Combat.
“Lesson learned,” said Sangiao, whose team’s weakness is admittedly the ground game. “Marami kami nakita doon na lesson na pwede naming palitan ngayon. Ready na kami sa wrestling. Kahit saan, mapa-ground man o striking.”
Folayang, the former high school teacher now considered as one of the faces of the sport in the country, faces former Ultimate Fighting Championship campaigner Kamal Shalorus in a lightweight bout, while Belingon takes on Masakatsu Ueda in the bantamweight division.
The main undercard of the event pits Bibiano Fernandes and Koetsu Okazaki for the interim bantamweight championship.