Two ONE Championship fighters namely Ariel “Tarzan” Sexton, 37, of Costa Rica and Lowen Tynanes, 28, of the United States were pulled from the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix. This gave Honorio “The Rock” Banario, 29, of the Philippines a second chance to be in the competition.
Training out of Team Lakay in Baguio City, Banario lost to Tynanes in the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix quarter-finals on January 25, 2019. In another quarter-final bout on February 22, 2019, Sexton defeated Amir Khan, 24, of Singapore.
But both Tynanes and Sexton are out from the game due to injuries. This means both Banario and Khan are proceeding to the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix semi-finals.
“I’m truly grateful to be given this second chance at the Grand Prix by ONE Championship,” Banario said. “Opportunities like these in the world of martial arts are diamonds in the rough and this is definitely something that I will not allow to pass me by. It’s truly unfortunate about what happened to Ariel and Lowen and I wish for their fast recovery.”
On March 31, 2019, Timofey Nastyukhin, 29, of Russia shocked the mixed martial arts world by knocking out Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez, 35, of the U.S. in a ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix quarter-final bout. The Russian fighter will face Banario in a semi-final bout at “ONE: Dawn of Heroes” on August 2, 2019 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines.
During Banario’s time in ONE Championship, he has had his fair share of highlight reel knockouts. It will be difficult to distinguish who among the two powerful strikers will prevail.
But for Banario, he and Nastyukhin are quite different. The Team Lakay fighter said, “I think Timofey and I have different striking skills.”
“He is more explosive and aggressive while I prefer to be accurate and bide my time with my attacks,” Banario said of Nastyukhin. “He is a very dangerous striker and I respect his skills as a martial artist but I will not allow myself to lose just yet.”
Banario has a lot to be thankful for lately. He wants to show his gratitude with the best performance of his entire career.
“I am not one to give a prediction but you can expect me to give everything I have and more until the very end,” Banario said. “I want to show my appreciation to ONE Championship by giving them a performance worthy of a world champion as well as give my fellow Filipinos something to cheer about.”
Watch one of Banario’s previous ONE Championship bouts here: