Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Pinoy Pride and Honorio Banario

 This appears in

Kevin Belingon, me, Honorio Banario, and Eduard Folayang at the lobby of the Manila Peninsula.
Pinoy Pride and Honorio Banario
by rick olivares

Honorio Banario is both excited and relieved. Only he is not showing it. He’s as cool as a man inside the air-conditioned confines of a five star hotel and away from the scorching summer heat.

It’s going to be long day at the Manila Peninsula where Banario and Team Lakay mates Eduard Folayang and Kevin Belingon are doing one-on-one interviews with the media from 9am-5pm.

However, it’s fine with all three. “Kailangan ‘to para lalong lumakas yung MMA,” reasons Banario. “Baka sakali makatulong din ‘to sa amin financially.”

The night of May 31, 2013 will be the second biggest night of Honorio Banario’s life.

The first time was last February 2 at Kuala Lumpur when he defeated compatriot Eric Kelly for the One Fighting Championship Featherweight Title. It’s a nice addition to the Lightweight Championship belt he carries from the Universal Reality Combat Championship.

His life has changed a bit since that cold day in February when he brought home that championship belt. Now more people know him and there’s a little change in the lifestyle as it has brought in a little more money.

With the URCC sparingly staging events, Banario and his Team Lakay teammates are grateful for the opportunities given them by the One FC. “Global na yung stage namin at may chance mag-travel,” beams the champ.

The second biggest night of Banario’s life is a few weeks away. That’s during the upcoming One FC: Rise to Power event at the Mall of Asia Arena. He is excited because he will be headlining his second ever fight and making his first title defense at the same time. Only this time it’s on home soil and he is relieved that he won’t have to fight another Filipino. “Kapag inisip mo yung pinagmulan namin lahat – mga small venues tapos sa mga arena sa ibang bansa tapos Araneta Coliseum kung saan ginawa yung Thrilla in Manila; ngayon sa MOA Arena, umaangat na yung MMA. Malaking karangalan mapasama rito.”

In his One FC debut in February of 2012, he lost to Korean Bae Young Kwon in the first round. His next two One FC fights – both wins – were against Filipinos. “Mahirap din kapag kalaban mo kapwa Pilipino,” says the 23-year old Banario. “Pero trabaho lang. Hindi mo pwedeng isipan kasi na kababayan mo ang kalaban mo.”  

Now he’ll be up against Japanese Koji Oishi, a Pancrase veteran with a record of 23-9-10 but is coming off a draw against Takumi Nakayama.

What the 35-year old Oishi will bring to fight night is a lot of experience and a stand up game where he likes to deliver telling kicks and punches. “He fights just like me,” observed Banario.

Even if the stand up game is Banario’s strength, he cannot help but think about fellow Team Lakay fighter Eduard Folayang who lost to wrestler Lowen Tynanes. “Kailangan marami akong matutunan na skills. Yan yung kagandahan ng MMA kasi iba’t ibang fighting disciplines yung makakatapat mo. Learning experience para sa amin lahat ‘to.”

May 31 will be Honorio Banario’s first title defense since winning the featherweight championship. He plans to go home that night a winner. And he’s doing it for Pinoy Pride and honor.

Tickets for ONE FC: RISE TO POWER on 31 May are exclusively available at Casino Filipino outlets nationwide. Refer to for details.

Fans from around the world can witness the action online via live streaming at

The first three undercard fights are available for viewing free-of-charge and the main card fights will be available for purchase at just US$9.99.

ONE FC: RISE TO POWER is headlined  by a ONE FC Featherweight World Championship bout between reigning champion Honorio “The Rock” Banario against number one contender Koji Oishi and pound-for-pound king Bibiano Fernandes taking on Koetsu Okazaki for the ONE FC Bantamweight Interim Title.  All the action takes place live from the MOA Arena in Manila, Philippines.

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