MANILA, Philippines – When Team Lakay's Honorio "The Rock" Banario started his career in ONE Championship, he was one of the organization's top featherweight talents.
Not many may recall, but Banario was the first ever ONE featherweight champion.
Now, the Baguio City native is set to make his return to the division, and make another run at the title.
On Friday, Banario will take on Thailand's Shannon "OneShin" Wiratchai at ONE: King of the Jungle in Singapore. The veteran's return to his original weight class may just give him the competitive edge he needs to allow him to resuscitate his career.
"This is my first match going back down to the featherweight division," said Banario. "Here, I am faster, more explosive, and the fans will surely enjoy an exciting match between two hungry veterans looking to make a statement to start the year."
Banario moved to the lightweight division after a five-match losing streak. He turned things around and won his first five matches at the new weight class, showing a renewed fervor and newfound power.
However, time has taken toll on his physicality, and the stress on his body at lightweight proved too much to handle.
"When I first competed at lightweight, I felt good because I was able to bring my power and speed up there, and still felt light," the 30-year-old Banario explained.
"However, after two years I dealt with injuries, and I felt heavier even if I was in peak condition," he added. "So I decided to move back down to a more natural weight."
"Even before my last bout, I wanted to move to featherweight. However, I couldn't pass on the chance to compete against a legend like Shinya (Aoki)."
During his run at lightweight, Banario also realized that he was not at 100%. He felt that returning to featherweight will be best for his body and for his mental health as well.
"My reaction time is a bit later than I want," he revealed. "It's a huge factor in my decision to move down."
"I believe that moving to featherweight will help bring the best out of me," he added. "It also motivates me to work even harder, especially after competing in lightweight for quite a while."
"I can't relax in my training," he stressed.
Team Lakay got off to a great start in 2020. For Banario, hard work, determination and the decision to compete in the featherweight division are what will help him break out of his slump and recover his winning ways.
"I just hope to win this one and keep on winning this year," said Banario, who has dropped his last three matches. "I'm returning to my original weight division, and I want to continue to work my way back up the top."
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