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.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

One Championship Global Rivals: Banario's Honor

Banario’s Honor
by rick olivares

Honorio Banario sat somewhat uncomfortably on the short podium erected at the Kamayan Sa EDSA where he was next to Eric Kelly. Both faced over 50 media people assembled who asked questions about their upcoming fights in One Championship: Global Rivals this mid-April.

At least six times, Banario was asked during the question and answer portion on how he is after his five-match losing streak, what his adjustments he will make after losing five straight, why he is still fighting after losing five straight when others would call it a career, and so on.

It stung every time the five-match losing streak — all in One Championship — was mentioned. “But those are the facts,” admitted the 26-year old from Baguio City. “I have to face it. I was a little uncomfortable doing this but I have to….”

Face my demons?

“Yes. And fears."

Ironically, Banario's last win in a MMA cage was against Eric Kelly during One Championship 7: Pride of a Nation. Since that TKO win over his compatriot on an August night in 2012, Banario has gone winless. There have been 36 One Championship events since and it is now April of 2016. It has been four years since he has lost known a win.

What was once a promising career that stood at an 8-1 win-loss card is now at a crossroads? Or really, is it?

“It’s all mental at this stage,” fessed up the 5’9” 145-pound fighter. “It’s a confidence problem.”

Honorio points to those back-to-back losses to Japanese featherweight Koji Oishi as those “demons” that have tormented him. “Akala ko kayang kaya ko. Kaya naman. But I made mistakes and he was a better fighter.”

If those wins over the Filipino were supposed to spur on the Japanese fighter to greater heights despite being an older fighter at (then) 36 years of age, that wasn’t the case. Oishi followed up those wins over Banario with a devastating loss Narantungalag Jadambaa of Mongolia in 2014. The Japanese fighter, who had fought in the UFC, struggled with injuries that escaped him for the most part of his career. In January of 2015, he called it a career.

Banario is surprised to hear of Oishi’s fate and hopes that there is still a happy ending on the horizon for him.

“Some people have said that I should quit. But no. I am a fighter. This is my life, my career, and in my blood. I cannot quit.”

And aside from his life, career, and blood, it is his work. Banario also coaches young mixed martial arts hopefuls in the Team Lakay Gym in Benguet, Mountain Province. “The training can be hard and there are times when the trainees want to quit. I tell them, ‘How can you quit? I have lost five straight matches but I haven’t quit? I am still here. Fighting. Teaching. Coaching.’”

On April 15, coincidentally once more, Banario will be facing a fellow Filipino in Vaughn Donayre, a fighter out of Cebu who is — coincidentally as well — battling his own losing streak. Donayre won his first seven matches then shockingly lost three of the next four including two in One Championship.

“Mahirap din kapag kapwa Pilipino ang kalaban mo. Pero tulad nga sa amin ni Eric (Kelly), trabaho lang.”

“But I have to win this April and regain my honor."

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