YANGON, Myanmar – Yoshitaka Naito derailed Joshua Pacio’s title aspirations as the Japanese veteran submitted the Filipino prospect to retain the ONE Championship strawweight belt in the headliner of the organization’s “State of Warriors” event on Friday, October 7 at the Thuwanna Indoor Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.
Naito spoiled Pacio’s goal to become the youngest Filipino fighter to win a world title in mixed martial arts by submitting the 20-year-old Baguio City native in the third round with a rear-naked choke.
The 32-year-old Japanese had to squeeze himself through the eye of a needle to claim the victory as Pacio appeared on his way to bringing home the gold-plated strap to the Philippines.
Pacio came prepared for a submission specialist like Naito, stuffing all 5 takedown attempts of his seasoned Japanese foe in the first round with ease.
Naito tried to change the complexion of the championship clash by dragging Pacio to the canvas with a single-leg takedown in the second period.
Although Naito maintained a strong top control to keep the fight on the ground, he made himself available to a volley of vicious blows from Pacio.
Having a clear view of Naito’s head, Pacio pummeled crisp punches and relentlessly drilled elbows while defending on his back for the entirety of Round Two.
As both men returned to their feet, Pacio repeatedly denied Naito’s demand to have the bout back on the ground.
Naito opened the third frame with a surging double-leg takedown that was met by a sprawl from Pacio.
However, Naito pushed his Filipino opponent against the cage fence, where he swiftly positioned himself on Pacio’s back and latched his arms onto the neck of Pacio.
Pacio struggled to shrug Naito off his back as the Japanese champion already secured a deep rear-naked choke and had no plans of letting it go.
With an asphyxiating grip on his neck, Pacio was forced to wave the white flag at the 1:33 mark of the third round.
Pacio tastes the first loss of his 3-year prizefighting career and downgrades to an 8-1 record.
Meanwhile, Naito remains undefeated as a pro with a 12-0 win-loss slate and successfully defended ONE Championship strawweight belt for the first time. – Rappler.com