May 23, 2024

Reigning ONE strawweight world champion Joshua Pacio is excited to make a comeback inside the circle after more than a year of not having defended his world title.
The last time Pacio stepped on the cage was in January 2020 in the main event of ONE: Fire & Fury when he edged Alex Silva via split decision to successfully retain his belt.
It’s the longest lull for the 25-year-old, who has been one of the most active fighters out of the legendary Team Lakay over the past few years, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
But Pacio is not letting this setback sideline him for good, as he does his due diligence in keeping himself in shape and training his hardest in the confines of the Team Lakay Gym in La Trinidad, Benguet.
“We have been finding ways to train amidst the restricted movements we have now. We have already returned in the gym and we’re already doing what we are passionate about – a lot of drills, repetitions, and learning new techniques in mixed martial arts,” Pacio said.
Top contenders in the weight class include former ONE strawweight world champion Yosuke Saruta, who is currently the top contender.
Not far behind are former titleholder Yoshitaka Naito of Japan, Bokang Matsunyane of South Africa, Hiroba Minowa, also of Japan, and Alex Silva of Brazil.
Pacio said he has game plans for each of the contenders by watching their previous fights.
“I watch their bouts and I continue to learn them and from them. I know for sure that I need to continuously level up because I can’t stay idle. But that’s a challenge I’m enjoying,” he said.
For now, Pacio has his eyes set on Saruta, who he feels has unfinished business with him.
The two fighters hold one win each over each other with Saruta taking their first clash via a split decision win in January 2019, while Pacio reclaimed his crown with a fourth-round knockout victory three months later.
“A trilogy with Saruta would be great, but it really depends with ONE Championship who will be my next challenger,” Pacio said. – Harley F. Palangchao