December 2, 2022

Former ONE featherweight world champion Honorio Banario will carry the country’s flag when he joins the Samahang Kickboxing ng Pilipinas to the 2022 Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam.
The SEA Games will be a good break for the Mankayan, Benguet pride, who has been on a three-year hiatus, as the last time he fought under mixed martial arts rules was in February 2019 scoring a unanimous win against Shannon Wiratchi.
Banario’s martial arts credentials earned him a spot to become a member of the national kickboxing squad, which is devoting most of its trainings in Baguio City and Benguet.
Before he entered MMA, the 32-year-old Banario has a good background in boxing, which is an edge when shifting to kickboxing.
Banario admitted he is adjusting in his training at the SKP camp, saying he needs to improve in speed and volume of punches or kicks thrown.
“The training is different for the SEA Games. The mentality is different. Here, you need speed and volume. I hope that I will bring glory to the Philippines,” said Banario, who is the first member of Team Lakay to win an MMA world belt in 2013.
Banario defeated fellow Igorot compatriot Eric Kelly for the world title via technical knockout.
Also, Team Lakay’s MMA team member Gina Iniong-Araos is making a comeback to the SEA Games after a long break in martial arts competition after giving birth to her first child.
Araos won a gold medal in the women’s under 55 kilograms in the 2019 SEA Games in Manila.
Other fellow Team Lakay members Jean Claude Saclag and Jerry Olsim also dominated their respective brackets in kickboxing to add two more gold medals for SKP in the 2019 SEA Games.
As an MMA fighter, Araos has nine wins and four losses.
After winning gold in the Manila SEA Games, Araos went on to fight Asha Roka of India in one of the undercards of ONE: Fire and Fury in January 2020, or two months before the first nationwide Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. – Harley F. Palangchao