Eduard Folayang believes that his sensational victory over Amir Khan last weekend would not have been possible without the help of Honorio Banario.
The 39-year-old Baguio City native tapped Banario to be his chief cornerman when he took on Khan in a rematch at ONE Fight Night 14, where the former ONE lightweight champion knocked out his Singaporean rival with a devastating left hook in the third round.
But before the triumphant moment transpired at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, a cloud of uncertainty hovered over Folayang and his support team, composed of Banario, retired fighter Tristan Rebuyaco, and legal adviser Atty. Dante Bagsan.
This was the first time that Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao was not in Folayang’s corner since the latter’s professional debut in 2007.
It can be recalled that Folayang left Team Lakay earlier this year to establish Lion Nation MMA alongside longtime stablemates Banario, Kevin Belingon, Joshua Pacio, Edward Kelly, and Jeremy Pacatiw.
To the pleasant surprise of many, Folayang and his crew functioned as a well-oiled unit during the bout, dispelling any doubts and showcasing their cooperation toward a common goal.
Folayang was quick to acknowledge the pivotal role played by Banario in his conquest of Khan, which ended his five-fight losing skid and handed him his first win in nearly four years.
“I think we selected the right people to be in my corner, particularly Honorio, because he constantly reminded me to counter and block the shots as I was repeatedly being hit by Amir Khan’s jabs,” he told Tiebreaker Times.
“I needed that in the fight. Honorio did a terrific job.”
Looking forward, Folayang sees this experience as preparation for the future. As the senior members of Lions Nation MMA, including himself and Banario, continue to age gracefully in the sport, they are gradually transitioning into roles as coaches and mentors.
“It’s a new team, so it’s a new set of adjustments for all of us, and yet it’s a good way for us to be prepared because someday, me, Honorio, and other seniors in the group will be the coaches of the team,” he said.
“That’s a good thing because we can develop more so that we know the feeling of calling the shots from the corner. It’s a good learning process for everyone.”
While Folayang’s career has been rejuvenated, he hopes to see the same redemption story unfold for Banario.
Banario, the inaugural ONE featherweight titleholder, hasn’t seen action since his split decision win over Shannon Wiratchai in February 2020.
“Landslide” wishes to see his old friend back in the Circle before this year ends.
“I’m praying for that to happen, By God’s grace, we hope to see Honorio back in action later this year,” Folayang stated.