Former ONE Featherweight World Champion Honorio “The Rock” Banario believes that having the hometown advantage will give him added motivation when he tries to enter the finals of the star-studded eight-man lightweight tournament.
Banario is scheduled to go toe-to-toe with Russian knockout artist Timofey Nastyukhin in the semi-finals of the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES which emanates from the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila on 2 August.
This will be Banario’s second life in the tournament after failing to qualify to the next round when he dropped a first-round TKO loss to Lowen Tynanes of the USA in the quarterfinals of the aforementioned tournament at ONE: HERO’S ASCENT also in Manila last January.
Tynanes got injured while training which forced him to withdraw and gave way for Banario to replace his slot in the tournament.
Soon to be a father, The 29-year-old Baguio City native is more than motivated to put his name beside Saygid Guseyn “Dagi” Arslanaliev in the finals, as he knows that the hometown crowd will be behind him in the scheduled three-round war against Nastyukhin.
“I am really focused on this match. It’s a different kind of motivation when you compete in front of Filipinos. You do everything to perform better so they won’t come home disappointed,” said Banario.
“I’m hungrier now to show what I can do. That’s why I’m working double-time to show to Filipinos the best Banario that they can see.”
“I dedicate this match to my family, my wife and my first born, I know they will be cheering for me on that day.”
Banario has competed in Manila 10 times and has won six of them since joining the stacked ONE Championship roster, disclosing that he draws inspiration and motivation from the cheers of his hometown fans.
“Manila has seen my ups and downs as a mixed martial artist. In all of my battles here, I’ve seen how these fans can give you an added boost when needed,” he added. “For me, it’s a priceless feeling.”
Banario, who has also won six of his last eight matches believes that more than the chants and cheers from the crowd, he needs to squeeze himself through the eye of a needle to beat his Russian counterpart.
“We all know how athletic and strong he is, and that this won’t be an easy fight at all,” Banario shared.
“This is probably the biggest match of my career and that’s why I’m giving more than 100 percent to make sure I compete.”