Herbert Burns Believes He is Earning ONE FC Title Shot the Hard Way

November 28, 2014

Herbert Burns is the No Gi Grappling World Champion, who has taken Asian MMA by storm and earned a shot at former ONE FC 145-pound champion Honorio Banario on the back of four straight wins.

The Brazilian is scheduled to face Banario at ONE FC: Warrior’s Way in Manila on Dec. 5, and having already won three fights under the banner of Asia’s biggest MMA promotion, Burns knows he is potentially just one victory away from a title shot.

Burns has already overcome the previously undefeated Edward Kelly, former PXC 155-pound champion Harris Sarmiento, and Shooto veteran Hiroshige Tanaka, but he believes a win over Banario would be his biggest statement yet.

“It will mean a lot. I see myself as the best featherweight in the ONE FC right now. A win over a former champion is always very good and is a great achievement. I am always looking to improve my skillset and that means excepting bigger and greater challenges.”

Banario was the URCC lightweight champion and had been competing at 159 pounds before signing with ONE FC. He’s one of the bigger fighters in the division, but Burns is not worried about his opponent’s size.

“I’m actually one centimeter taller than him and I have fought other opponents that fought at lightweight before, so I’m not worried at all with his size. I have competed with guys bigger than me and am comfortable. I believe in my technical abilities and that will always be my main advantage.”

Burns does not cut nearly as much weight as some fighters in the division and there was some speculation he might drop down to 135, but he says he is happy where he is for the time being.

“I feel very comfortable at 145 and right now and I don’t see myself dropping to 135, but you never know, that can be possible. Right now I am chasing the ONE FC belt at 145, so maybe once I achieve that goal and do well in my division I will consider exploring other opportunities.”

Banario won the title courtesy of a win over Eric Kelly, but lost the belt after being beaten twice in succession by Koji Oishi. The Japanese fighter couldn’t hang onto it for much longer himself and dropped a decision to Jadamba Naruntungalag in his most recent outing.

Marat Gafurov made a big impression by beating Rob Lisita in his ONE FC debut, while Kelly is probably in pole position for a title shot after defeating the same opponent in a recent eliminator, but Burns believes he could jump to the head of the queue with a win in Manila next month.

“Banario’s last fight was against the champion and it was a very tough fight for both of them, plus he is a former champion, so after this win I want my shot for the belt. I have fought some very talented and experienced fighters to get to this next challenge, so I believe I have earned the right to challenge the titleholder.”

When Burns joined Evolve MMA, he was 1-0 with that solitary win coming against a very weak opponent in his native Brazil. Since moving to Singapore, his career has taken off and he believes that it is this high caliber of training that has propelled him to the brink of a ONE FC title shot.

“My entire MMA game has been greatly developed since joining Evolve MMA. I improve in my striking, my wrestling, my transitions, and my BJJ. I train and I push myself very hard, and Evolve MMA is giving the support that I need.”

In preparation for the fight with Banario, he says he has been working with a cross section of coaches from the worlds of Muay Thai, wrestling, MMA, and BJJ.

“Saenghiran Lookbanyai is taking care of my striking, Heath Sims my wrestling and transitions, and I have being working a lot with Eddie Ng and Marcos Ratinho on my overall MMA game. I’m a very well rounded MMA fighter right now and I see lot of space to improve and evolve.”

Burns will be up against the 20,000 Filipino fans expected to fill the SM Mall of Asia Arena, as well as an opponent who is a former champion, but he has already beaten a local fighter in this venue once before and believes that experience will stand him in good stead on Dec. 5.

“It was awesome last time. The Philippines fans are really loud and cheerful. On top of that, it was my ONE FC debut and I did a great job that night, so definitely I’m looking forward to get back in Manila and putting on a great show, get one more win, and a shot at the belt.”

Fans around Asia can catch all the action live on FOX Sports 1. Check your local listings. Also, fans from around the world can witness the action online via live streaming at http://www.onefc.com/livestream. The event will be available for purchase at just $9.99.

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