Former ONE Featherweight World Champion Honorio “The Rock” Banario believes that having the hometown advantage will give him the boost that he needs when he shoots for the stars in the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix.
Banario is scheduled to go toe-to-toe with Russian knockout artist Timofey Nastyukhin in the semi-finals of the 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 chance 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.
But with Tynanes out because of an injury, Banario was given a rare second opportunity in the tournament, and to his favor – it’s happening in his homecountry.
“I am really focused for 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.”
Soon to be a father, Banario certainly isn’t lacking in motivation.
With all factors in play, the 29-year-old Baguio City native is more than motivated to advance to the finals where Saygid Guseyn “Dagi” Arslanaliev awaits.
He believes that the crowd will play a huge factor.
“I dedicate this match to my family, my wife and my first born, I know they will be cheering for me in that day,” said Banario.
“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, understands that he will come in as a heavy underdog, regardless of where they battle.
But if he needs to squeeze himself through the eye of a needle to beat his Russian counterpart, Banario certainly will.
“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.”
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