Banario ready for first title defense

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013


WITH Asia's largest mix martial (MMA) arts promotion returning to Manila on May, Igorot fighting pride Honorio Banario is set to defend his title against a Japanese submission specialist.

Banario, winner of the first featherweight belt in One Fighting Championships (One FC), will battle Koji Oishi when the promotions returns to the fight capital of Asia at the 20,000-seater SM Mall of Asia Arena in what is expected to be the greatest fight card ever compiled in One FC history.

"One FC will be back in the fight capital of Asia on May 31 with a stacked fight card that is sure to get the adrenaline pumping for the passionate Filipino fight fans. This event could possibly be the largest in One FC's history and features the top names in MMA, headlined by One FC Featherweight World Champion Honorio Banario," One FC chief-executive-officer Victor Cui said.

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Banario captured the One FC crown when he defied all odds by defeating his fellow countryman Eric Kelly at One FC: Return of Warriors via TKO and will try to hold onto his title when he battles the ever so tough submission specialist from Japan.

The 25-year-old native of Mankayan, Benguet is considered as one of the top mixed martial artists in the world today and a member of the legendary Team Lakay where he trains alongside fellow One FC fighters Eduard Folayang and Kevin Belingon under head coach Mark Sangiao.

"Close to 20,000 fans are expected to pack the SM Mall of Asia Arena to witness the greatest sporting spectacle in the world," added Cui.

Oishi, a 35-year-old Japanese MMA veteran and former Lightweight King of Pancrase, comes from a wrestling and karate background and is renowned for leaving everything on the line in brawls against some of the best in the business, including Chris Lytle, Carlos Condit and both of the Diaz brothers.

Pound-for-pound king Bibiano "The Flash" Fernandes will also return to the famed One FC cage when he squares off against Japanese MMA sensation Koetsu Okazaki for the One FC Bantamweight Interim Title.

One FC Bantamweight World Champion Soo Chul Kim is currently undergoing shoulder surgery and will be out of action for an indefinite period of time. Therefore, One FC officials have decided that an interim One FC Bantamweight World Championship title will be introduced until Kim is ready to make a comeback.

Fernandes is undeniably one of the best fighters in the world today with his never-ending gas tank, explosive take-downs, and lighting fast strikes which earned him a huge fan base amongst Asian and international fans alike.

Fernandes will have his toughest test yet when he battles Japanese sensation Koetsu Okazaki.

Okazaki is the latest top Japanese fighter to sign for One FC and is one of the most experienced fighters in the entire bantamweight division considered a tenacious competitor known to never back down from any opponent.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on April 11, 2013.

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