MANILA, Philippines – Joshua Pacio is out to prove he is the king of the strawweight division in ONE Championship as he puts his title on the line against a former champion right in his home turf.
The Filipino Pacio will seek to stretch his unbeaten streak at the Mall of Asia Arena to 7 fights when he locks horns with Brazilian Alex Silva in the main event of ONE: Fire and Fury next Friday, January 31.
Wins over former champions Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke, Yoshitaka Naito, and Yosuke Saruta have propelled the 24-year-old Pacio to the top of the stacked strawweight division.
This time, Pacio will be facing the only former ONE strawweight titlist he has yet to defeat in the 37-year-old Silva, who is fresh from submission wins over Peng Xue Wen and Stefer Rahardian.
“They call me a young phenom for a reason,” Pacio said. “I need to prove that.”
Pacio is coming off a roller-coaster 2019 that saw him lose, reclaim, and defend the ONE strawweight title all within 12 months.
He opened 2019 with a controversial split decision loss to Saruta to relinquish the belt, but reclaimed the title in highlight-reel fashion with a fourth-round knockout in their rematch 3 months later.
To close out 2019, Pacio successfully defended his title for the first time with a second-round arm triangle submission win over compatriot Rene Catalan.
“I am a world champion now,” Pacio said after his title defense against Catalan. “All I can say is that all the sacrifices and hard work really paid off for us.”
Joining Pacio in the card are Team Lakay teammates Eduard Folayang, Danny Kingad, Lito Adiwang, and Gina Iniong, setting up what could be another memorable night for the Philippines’ top mixed martial arts stable.
Folayang, a former ONE lightweight champion, battles The Netherlands’ Pieter Buist in the co-main event, while ONE flyweight Grand Prix finalist Kingad returns to action against China’s Xie Wei in a featured bout.
Adiwang tangles with Thailand’s Pongsiri Mitsatit, while Iniong – fresh off a successful gold medal run in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games – clashes with India’s Asha Roka. – Rappler.com