July 19, 2024

Team Lakay’s Joshua Pacio said he has no pressure despite being the lone Filipino mixed martial arts champion under ONE Championship but he downplayed the “new face of PH MMA” tag.

“A lot of people are saying I’m the only champion left for the Philippines. But for me, I don’t feel any pressure because that’s not what’s in my head right now. Instead, I’m more focused on improving my skills and I’m more focused on what to bring next inside the ONE circle,” the 25-year-old Pacio said.

The Igorot champion said he has seen the highest of highs when Filipinos were the toast of the town in Asia’s biggest MMA promotion.

It was in 2018 that five Filipinos held belts in ONE Championship – four of which were under the Team Lakay stable.

Two-time champion Eduard Folayang headlined the honor roll after he won the ONE lightweight world championship.

Not far behind was Geje Eustaquio, who took home the ONE flyweight world championship, followed by Pacio with the ONE strawweight world championship, and Kevin Belingon with the ONE bantamweight world championship.

That dream run built Team Lakay’s lore as the best MMA stable in the country.

Of late and after Brandon Vera’s defeat to Arjan Singh Bhullar to surrender the ONE heavyweight world championship, Pacio is now the lone Filipino who holds a belt on his shoulders in ONE Championship.

Times may have changed, but Pacio said having that glory run with his fellow Igorot warriors has truly taught him a lot.

“When I first joined Team Lakay, I was so proud that I was training with champions. And until now, every time I enter the gym, that feeling never changes,” he said. – Harley F. Palangchao