With a growing list of injured ONE Championship athletes in the Lightweight Division, other fighters readily step up to the plate for a second opportunity.
Among those out of action are Lowen Tynanes, Ariel Sexton and Timofey Nastyukhin, who have begged off from the division’s World Grand Prix Tournament. But one of the fighters eager to step in is Honorio Banario.
Known as “The Rock”, Banario was included in the original grand prix competitors list but saw his stint cut off after he was defeated by Tynanes in the quarterfinals last January.
“I find my match with Lowen (Tynanes) as somewhat bittersweet, I did my best in that match but he proved to be the better man that night. He was quick in taking me down and I failed to defend myself on time”, shared Banario.
The former ONE Lightweight Champion seemed to have learned in the hard way by absorbing that TKO defeat and so he vowed to get back on track, “I have learned a lot from that match and I will be taking those lessons in my upcoming bout,” he added.
Seeing all the injured casualties made Banario and Coach Mark Sangiao to be more cautious in training to avoid the same fate that the three aforementioned fighters have suffered.
“It is unfortunate that great athletes are getting injured… [but] Coach Mark always plans our daily training menu with our efficiency and safety in mind,” Banario continued.
The 29-year old fighter also recognizes how massive the pressure is not just for him but also for the whole team because he will be joined tonight by four other Team Lakay mates Eduard Folayang, Geje Eustaquio, Edward Kelly and Danny Kingad.
“Even though there are five of us competing in Manila, we have always been training independently with our partners in the same weight division. We know the pressure coach Mark is feeling with roughly half of his athletes competing on the same night so we also do our part and train diligently”.
Banario looks forward to fight night and will be competing out there against Dae Sung Park in hopes if reclaiming his lost throne in the stacked Lightweight division, “This is the perfect opportunity for me to win”, Banario exclaimed.
Team Lakay stablemates Danny Kingad and Geje Eustaquio share the same sentiments because they know how important it is for their team to win in front of the home crowd especially as they will be both competing in the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix.
“We are all very excited! The energy is just different when it’s in the Mall of Asia Arena, and it’s a privilege to perform in front of our countrymen. We are able to perform in other countries, so it’s always a proud moment to perform in front of our people, which makes it more exciting”, Eustaquio stated in an interview last month.
Meanwhile Kingad shared his thoughts about his upcoming date against Reece McLaren in the press conference, “This is the biggest card in ONE Championship in Manila. We’re very excited about this coming Friday, I just want to say to Reece is one of my idols. We’ll face each other in the ring, and I’m excited for that”.
Eduard Folayang and Edward Kelly wraps up the Team Lakay contingent, where Folayang locks horn with Eddie Alvarez, and Kelly fights Chinese rising star Xie Bin tonight at ONE: Roots of Honor tonight at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.
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