Former ONE Featherweight World Champion Honorio “The Rock” Banario missed out on a golden chance to insert himself into the stacked ONE Championship Lightweight division.
Banario suffered his third-straight loss after dropping a first-round submission to former ONE Lightweight World Champion Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki in the co-main event of ONE: CENTURY PART II at the Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo last Sunday, 13 October.
The Mankayan, Benguet native said the he came fully prepared for his match with Aoki, but his Japanese opponent imposed his will right away, bringing the game to the canvas before finishing the bout with a tight D’Arce choke in just 54 seconds.
Such is the name of the game for Banario, accepting his fate as he simply lost to a better athlete on that night.
“I respect and admire Aoki a lot because he’s a great competitor. I know we both came prepared. I felt really good, I came in light and in good shape, but he never gave me a chance, he was certainly better at that night,” Banario said.
“My game plan was simple, try to get that knockout. I was timing him so I can get my momentum, but he went for the takedown and really imposed his will.”
Despite the disappointment of another loss, Banario said he has accepted the outcome of his bout and admitted his heartbreaking setback only boosts his motivation to improve and to become a better mixed martial artist.
Still at the prime age of 30, “The Rock” believes he has a long way to go.
“Even though I did not get the win, I’m proud of myself that I competed in the biggest event of ONE in front of a Japanese legend. Sadly, he’s just really good at what he does,” Banario said.
“2019 was bad for me, but I just have to keep on learning. Last Sunday was a good eye-opener, seeing our difference on the ground.”
Although his back is against the wall, the Filipino looks on the bright side of the situation and hopes to bounce back in 2020.
“Now I just want to go home and rest with my family. Then it’s back to the drawing board with my team to train non-stop,” Banario said.
“This is a big lesson and I am confident that I can come back stronger after this. I’ll take my game to the next level and you will be seeing a different ‘The Rock’ in my next outing on the ONE Championship stage.”
ONE Championship returns in less than two weeks with ONE: DAWN OF VALOR on 25 October at the Istora Senayan in Jakarta, Indonesia.