Honorio Banario is preparing to headline ONE FC: "Moment of Truth" at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Manila next Friday night (Dec. 6, 2013) and the event title is apt for the 24 year old because this fight will tell us a lot about exactly where he belongs in the featherweight landscape.
He is coming off a second round TKO loss to Koji Oishi who is one of the most seasoned and experienced fighters in the 145-pound division. The rematch will be the Japanese veteran's 43rd fight and he is in the form of his life having lost only one of his last 13 fights.
If Banario can do what he was seconds away from achieving in their first fight and stop Oishi then he will instantly establish himself as one of the very best in the division. A second successive loss would not be disastrous but would demonstrate that the Team Lakay standout is still not ready to take on the top featherweights in the world.
It is a decisive moment in Banario's career but he approaches it filled with confidence and determined to win back his belt and avenge that recent loss.
"In the first fight I nearly won but I made some mistakes after that. I know what it takes to beat Oishi now and I will not make the same mistakes again, he has my belt and I want it back."
Silence reigned in the 20,000 capacity SM Mall of Asia Arena after Oishi recovered from the beating he had received in the opening round to stop Banario in his tracks with an overhand right in the second. The Filipino fans were devastated to see their compatriot lose his ONE FC title and the former champion is adamant he will not let them down again.
"I want to say sorry to all the Filipino fans for that defeat but they should know I will come back stronger. Please come and support me in my next fight, my victory will be for you."
One of Banario's Team Lakay team mates Dave Galera recently signed with the UFC and the former ONE FC champion says they have been training together as they prepare for their respective bouts.
"Dave has a match scheduled in January and I am fighting in December so we have trained together everyday, even though he is in a smaller division he is around the same height as me. ONE FC and the UFC are the biggest MMA events in the world and everyone in Baguio is proud that Team Lakay fighters are now in both."
Banario became the first Filipino to ever win a title with a major MMA organization when he beat Eric Kelly earlier this year but that joy was short lived with Oishi snatching the belt from his grasp four months later. Becoming a champion was the highlight of his career and it is a feeling "The Rock" is determined to replicate.
"Bringing the belt back to Baguio was the best feeling, when I went home without it after losing to Oishi it was a bad feeling but now is my chance to get my belt back and get honor for my team and my country. I have learned from my loss and I will be a champion again."