MANILA, Philippines – Honorio "The Rock" Banario, the first Filipino to ever win a world MMA title, promised not to let his countrymen down when he makes his first title defense against Koji Oishi at the main event of "ONE FC: Rise to Power. "
"Pinaghandaan po namin ito ng mabuti," said Banario, ONE FC featherweight champion, told ABS-CBNnews.com. "Proud ako na lumaban sa harap ng ating mga kababayan."
Banario nabbed the inaugural featherweight crown by defeating fellow Filipino Eric Kelly last February.
He hopes to continue his momentum when he faces Oishi, who is known for his monumental brawls against Chris Lytle, Carlos Condit, and Nate Diaz.
The soft-spoken Benguet native said that he and his Team Lakay training partners invested time to improve his grappling skills to prepare for a possible ground battle against the Japanese fighter.
“Nag-training kami ng mabuti sa striking pati na sa ground fighting para handa ako kung sakaling mapunta ang laban sa ground,” said Banario. “Pero hangga't maari, dadaanin ko sa striking ang laban.”
For his part, Kevin Belingon, who will be squaring off against grappling specialist Masakatsu Ueda, hopes to grab the ONE FC bantamweight grand prix title.
Belingon, nicknamed “The Silencer”, dreams of becoming the second Team Lakay member to own a world MMA title.
He said his coaching staff laid out a set schedule of training for him to focus on the different disciplines he’ll be needing to beat Ueda.
“Nag-set po kami ng schedule para sa bawat discipline na kailangan namin, including yung grappling para mapaghanadaan yung makakalaban naming,” he said.
Should he beat Ueda, he said he’s open to fight any bantamweight fighter, including Brazilian star Bibiano Fernandes.
“Ok lang po akong lumaban kay Bibiano Fernandes, handa akong lumaban kahit kanino. Pero naka-depende na po iyon sa handlers namin,” he said.
Meanwhile, Eduard Folayang is looking forward to meet in the cage submission specialist Kamal Shalorus of Iran.
The Manny Pacquiao of Philippine MMA said he hopes to use his improved ground-and-pound against his Iranian foe.
“Nagtrain po ako ng mabuti lalo na sa wrestling at ground and pound kung saan magaling ang kalaban natin.”
ONE FC: Rise to Power, which will also feature former UFC fighters like Tim Sylvia and Phil Baroni, will take place at the MOA Arena on May 31.