Singaporean mixed martial arts star Amir Khan will have his work cut out for him in the co-main event of ONE: BEYOND THE HORIZON on Saturday, September 8 at the Baoshan Arena in Shanghai, China.
Khan will be taking on former ONE Featherweight World Champion and lightweight contender Honorio “The Rock” Banario in a three-round lightweight bout that could have some serious championship implications in ONE Championship’s 77.1-kilogram weight class.
With a talent-rich division that has former champions like Shinya Aoki and Eduard Folayang, as well as top-tier contenders like Ev Ting and Timofey Nastyukhin all chomping at the bit to get their hands on reigning ONE Lightweight World Champion Martin Nguyen, Banario is on the brink of contention with five-straight wins. On the other hand, Khan finds himself on the outside looking in.
Khan saw his six-match winning streak get snapped by Nastyukhin last February, displacing him from the list of top contenders in the division.
After a bounce-back win over Sung Jong Lee back in his hometown this past May, the 23-year old Singaporean dynamo is now looking to start a new winning streak and make his way back to the upper echelon of the lightweight division.
“He is a tough competitor, and recently has become a very well-rounded fighter.” Khan said of his upcoming opponent Banario. “I believe he is at his peak now.”
A known finisher with eight victories via knockout to his name, Khan believes that his striking is far more superior than his heavy-handed Team Lakay counterpart, who has five knockout victories of his own.
“I feel my advantage would be my striking range,” the Evolve MMA product stated. “I am confident that I will be able to outstrike him.”
Banario may have more submission wins to his credit, but Khan reckons he poses a great threat once the bout goes to the grappling wheelhouse.
“I definitely will have a huge advantage on the ground as well. This will let me dictate the fight and do it on my terms.” Khan confidently expressed.
While Khan appears to be brimming with confidence with regard to his skill set, the Singaporean standout knows better as he is not taking a former world champion like Banario lightly.
“Stylistically, I wouldn’t say [Banario] is the toughest I will face, but I definitely will not be underestimating him or taking our bout lightly.” Khan assured.
Should Khan take care of business against a high-caliber competitor such as Banario, it would definitely raise the Singaporean star’s stock, giving him back-to-back victories on the ONE Championship stage.
But would it immediately put Khan in the conversation for a shot at the ONE Lightweight World Championship? According to the lightweight prospect, a simple decision win wouldn’t be enough.
To deserve a shot at gold, Khan feels that his win over Banario must be of the spectacular kind. Nothing less than a second-round stoppage, and that’s what Khan is looking for at ONE: BEYOND THE HORIZON.
“I feel that I will only deserve the title shot if I manage to finish him by the second round. I’m looking for a quick finish in this fight, either by striking or through my ground game,” he declared.