February 9, 2023

Mixed martial arts fans admire both reigning ONE strawweight champion Joshua Pacio and rising star Lito Adiwang but they do not want the two fighters to face each other inside the ONE circle yet.
Due to the possibility that Adiwang will rise in the ONE strawweight ranking, the 24-year-old Team Lakay fighter is a potential contender for the world belt.
Both fighters are trying to avoid sharing the ONE circle, while Team Lakay Chair Mark Sangiao said the scenario cannot be avoided in the future.
But before that fight happens, Adiwang has signified his interest to challenge former world champion Yoshitaka Naito, a world-class grappler, to test his all-around game.
Naito is currently ranked third in the strawweight division.
“Naito is an excellent grappler, and you know he will try to force you to play his game on the ground. That’s why it’s a perfect test for me,” Adiwang said.
Indeed, facing Naito would make perfect sense for Adiwang, who knows a match-up with the Japanese star would be a challenge, but he believes he can get the job done.
Ranked second in the strawweight division is former champion Yosuke Saruta while Filipino compatriot Rene Catalan ranked fourth with former champion Alex Silva in fifth place.
Catalan, who was defeated by Pacio in their championship bout last year, is also trying to avoid Adiwang, and he prefers to fight title contenders from Japan or Brazil.
Even Sangiao is not comfortable seeing his wards sharing the ONE circle but claimed that he would leave the decision to his concerned fighters should ONE Championship decide that Adiwang will challenge Pacio for the title.
“Sa ngayon, ‘di namin iniisip ‘yun. Hindi pa namin napag-uusapan. Pero kung sakali man na dumating ‘yung time na mag-dedesisyon na sila, sa kanila ko ibibigay ang desisyon,” Sangiao said.
It wasn’t the first time Team Lakay faced such a dilemma.
Before the possible Pacio-Adiwang title fight scenario, ONE flyweight contender Danny Kingad could have challenged then reigning flyweight world champion Geje Eustaquio for the title.
The same scenario could have happened between former lightweight world champion Eduard Folayang and Honorio Banario, who later went back to the featherweight division. – Harley F. Palangchao