Malaysian star Keanu Subba wants to make an impressive return to the ONE Championship Circle, and he has a former Filipino World Champion in his crosshairs.
Subba has his eyes set on former ONE Featherweight World Champion Honorio “The Rock” Banario after a long layoff due to a shin injury.
“I need to make a statement when I make my return because I’ve been out for almost a year,” Subba told ONEFC.com.
“Honorio Banario is the perfect opponent for me. After him, I have a whole list of guys I want to compete against, but Honorio is the guy now. Beating him, a former World Champion, is going to put me right back in the mix.”
Banario became the division’s inaugural World Champion after he beat fellow Igorot Eric “The Natural” Kelly back in 2013.
A string of setbacks prompted Banario to move to the lightweight division, where he blew hot and cold. Recently, Banario returned to the featherweight division and beat Shannon “OneShin” Wiratchai at ONE: KING OF THE JUNGLE in February.
With 19 bouts in the promotion, Banario is one of the most experienced athletes in The Home Of Martial Arts, and Subba believes there is no guy better to test his skills against when he returns.
“Just look at his experience—he has fought guys like Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki, Lowen Tynanes, and Ev “ET” Ting. He was even winning that fight against Amir Khan [in September 2018] until Amir took him down and choked him out,” Subba said.
“At first, I thought about facing Bruno “Puccibull” Pucci. But after doing some research, I realized that [Honorio] has a bigger fanbase, and that is why I want to face him.”
He also credited Banario’s evolution as an athlete as the Mankayan, Benguet native turned from just merely a wushu-centric athlete to a more rounded competitor. It was most evident in his win against Wiratchai, where his takedowns played a big part in the decision.
“Stylistically, when he first signed with ONE, he was known as a very wushu-dominant guy,” the Bali MMA representative said.
“However, he has evolved into a well-rounded fighter. In some of his recent fights, he has been going for the takedowns and submissions rather than just wanting to knock people out. I have improved, too, so this would be an interesting fight.
“His strength and striking are his greatest threats, but I can figure out his pattern, and if it goes to the ground, I can do even better.”
At the moment, Banario remains disconnected from the online world as he is currently enjoying solitude in Buguias, Benguet, but his Team Lakay head coach in Mark Sangiao is already up to the challenge.
“Team Lakay’s Honorio Banario is being summoned,” he said. “We never say no!”
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