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Honorio Banario glad to be back on old stomping grounds

Honorio Banario has returned to familiar territory as Lions Nation MMA converts the old Team Lakay gym in La Trinidad, Benguet, evoking nostalgia and excitement as he prepares for the next chapter of his prizefighting career.

The gym holds a multitude of memories for Banario. It witnessed his growth as a mixed martial artist and served as the backdrop for some of his unforgettable moments in the sport.

Returning to the place where it all began fills the former ONE featherweight champion with a sense of purpose and rejuvenation.

“Of course, the mood is happy. That’s where we trained before, and then we suddenly came back. The ambiance is great. The people we get to interact with there are also very happy because they’ll always see us,” he told Tiebreaker Times.

Team Lakay established the KM4 branch in 2013, before transforming it into a full-fledged headquarters after the closure of the group’s original spot on Kayang Street in Baguio City.

The renowned stable, mentored by Mark Sangiao, relocated its command post to a more spacious facility in the nearby village of Pico in 2019. That made KM4 a secondary location for amateur athletes and paying customers.

However, Banario, Eduard Folayang, Kevin Belingon, and Joshua Pacio shockingly announced their departures from Team Lakay this past March. The quartet then chose to set up camp at KM4 after Team Lakay’s lease on the space expired in May.

Lions-Nation-MMA Honorio Banario glad to be back on old stomping grounds News ONE Championship  - philippine sports news

Folayang subsequently renamed the old gym to the Landslide Martial Arts Training Center.

During the inauguration on Saturday, the four fighters announced their decision to join forces and form Lions Nation MMA, with the Landslide Martial Arts Training Center serving as their new home.

#ReadMore  Honorio Banario favored grappling vs Wiratchai -- and it worked wonders

In addition to Banario and the others, it will also be a homecoming of sorts for Jeremy Pacatiw and Edward Kelly. The two have decided to join Lions Nation MMA.

While the gym’s walls may bear witness to past victories and countless hours of hard work, they also symbolize the potential for future triumphs. Banario recognizes the significance of this transformation, both for himself and the entire pride.

“We really feel at home in that gym. Moving forward, we’ll continue to compete and prepare for more matches and competitions here. We’re all happy and accustomed to the old gym,” he said.

Banario has yet to compete under the ONE Championship banner since February 2020 when he defeated Shannon Wiratchai by split decision.

However, he has stayed active by representing the Philippines in the last two editions of the Southeast Asian Games as part of the national kickboxing team.

The 33-year-old native of Mankayan hopes to represent Lions Nation MMA inside the Circle later this year.

Written By

Nissi Icasiano is a sportswriter, analyst and editor from the Philippines. He started his professional career in 2013. He has also written for various media outlets such as, ABS-CBN, Tiebreaker Times,,, South China Morning Post, The Phnom Penh Post and the International Business Times. In 2017, he started a career as a Combat Sports Analyst for television and radio, appearing on various news shows for ABS-CBN, GMA, TV5, Radyo Singko 92.3 News FM, PTV 4, Business World, Radyo Pilipinas 2 and Bombo Radyo Philippines. He practices boxing at Tiger City Boxing Gym whenever he is not writing.

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