SINGAPORE – With the stellar performance that Joshua Pacio showcased in their championship clash, Yoshitaka Naito is fully convinced that the highly-touted Filipino prospect will be a world titleholder in the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA).
The 32-year-old Japanese veteran had to dig deep to defeat Pacio and retain the ONE Championship strawweight belt in the main event of the organization’s “State of Warriors” card on Friday, October 7.
Naito might have won the fight by way of third-round submission, but he had to earn it the hard way as Pacio controlled the first two rounds of the title tilt.
Pacio effortlessly stuffed all 5 takedown attempts of Naito in the first round and peppered his Japanese foe with lunging right hands and spinning back kicks.
Although Naito was able to put the action on the mat with a successful single-leg takedown in second frame, Pacio remained active by inflicting damage while defending on his back.
Naito capitalized on Pacio’s miscalculation in the third period as he forced his Filipino foe to wave the white flag with a rear-naked choke.
Despite the fact that he spoiled Pacio’s bid to become the youngest Filipino fighter to win an MMA world title, Naito sees the 20-year-old Baguio City native having a gold-plated strap around his waist someday.
“If he gets more experience, one day he will become a champion,” Naito quipped.
Pacio made sure to have a lasting impression as Naito admitted that the Filipino is one of the toughest opponents that he has faced in his 12-bout prizefighting career.
“His punches and his kicks are heavy. I got rocked a couple of times in the fight. Definitely, he is one of the toughest opponent in my career,” he stated.
With the potential of the 5-foot-4 Team Lakay standout, Naito believes that Pacio could be the top face of ONE Championship’s strawweight division in the future.
“His skill as a fighter is so impressive. He is the future of this division. He can be a good champion someday,” he said. – Rappler.com