ONE FC's Honorio "The Rock" Banario during one of his fights -- ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines – Honorio “The Rock” Banario, the first Filipino ever to win a world MMA title, will be defending his featherweight crown when ONE FC returns to Manila on May 31.
Banario, who nabbed the featherweight title by stopping Eric Kelly in four rounds, will be facing Japanese submission specialist Koji Oishi at the main event of ONE FC: Rise to Power.
ONE FC presented Banario together with Brazilian MMA star Bibiano Fernandes at the Midas Hotel and Casino in Pasay City on Wednesday.
“ONE FC will be back in the fight capital of Asia with a stacked fight card that is sure to get the adrenaline pumping for the passionate Filipino fight fans,” said CEO Victor Cui said.
The MMA event will take place at the 20,000-seater SM Mall of Asia Arena, a year after ONE FC staged its first Manila event at the Araneta Coliseum.
Banario said he is proud of the fact that he won the country’s first world title in MMA but added that a lot has changed since he won inaugural ONE FC featherweight title last February.
“Maraming nabago nung naging champion ako. Naging dibdiban ako sa training, naging seryoso ako,” the 23-year-old Benguet native said.
Banario, a member of Baguio’s Team Lakay Wushu, which produced local MMA champions Kevin Belingon, Eduard Folayang and Roy Docyogen, said he is currently focusing his training on improving his ground game in preparation for Oishi.
“I’m improving my ground [fighting] kasi alam natin basta Japanese, magaling sa grappling,” he said.
The 35-year-old Oishi is renowned for his monumental brawls against Chris Lytle, Carlos Condit and Nick and Nate Diaz.
Meanwhile, Fernandes will tackle Japanese MMA sensation Koetsu Okazaki for the ONCE FC interim bantamweight crown.
The 33-year-old Fernandes is known as one of the best fighters in the world and has already won the Dream bantamweight, Dream bantamweight grand prix, former Dream featherweight and Dream feather grand prix crowns.