ONE Championship: Joshua Pacio hopes aggressive tactics leads him to a belt
JAKARTA, Indonesia – The vanquished challenger is back for another title shot. And this time offense will be in the game plan.
"Last fight namin (ni Yoshitaka Naito), nag-focus ako sa takedown defense. Pero ngayon nag-focus din kami sa wrestling offense," said Joshua "The Passion" Pacio on Thursday, September 20.
(In my last fight against Yoshitaka Naito, I focused on takedown defense. But now I also focused on wrestling offense.)
He was speaking at the open workout for the media two days before ONE: Conquest of Heroes, ONE Championship's upcoming fight card that will take place in the Jakarta Convention Center on Saturday, September 22.
Pacio's title fight against ONE strawweight (52kg) champ Yoshitaka Naito is the main event of the evening. The card will air live on ABS-CBN Sports S+A starting at 10:30 pm Philippine time on Saturday night.
"Kung may pagkakataong maging aggressive on the ground, gagawin din namin," adds the 22-year old from Baguio who is 12-2-0 as a pro.
(If there is a chance to be aggressive on the ground, we will do it.)
In October 2016, the two squared off in a ONE title bout in Myanmar. Halfway through the third round, the Japanese caught Pacio in a rear naked choke, forcing a tapout and denying the Pinoy a ONE Championship belt.
Pacio, an HRM student in the University of the Cordilleras, hopes for a different result this time around. He and his coach Mark Sangiao seem to have scouted the opponent well.
"Weakness ang striking niya pero nag-iimprove din ang striking kaya di rin pwede maging kampante," says Pacio.
"Pero tingin ko doon ko siya kukunin. Meron kaming three points na target so yun, tatargetin ko yun."
(His weakness is striking but he has improved a lot there so we cannot be overconfident. I think I am going to catch him there, by striking. We have three target points so I will go for them.)
Naito appears confident that Pacio will not join the ranks of current Filipino ONE Championship champs, a list that includes Brandon Vera, Geje Eustaquio, and interim bantamweight champ Kevin Belingon.
"He, (Pacio) has improved immensely in the last two years since we met in the cage, but so have I," affirms Naito, a 34-year old veteran with a 13-1 pro record.
"I am a much more complete martial artist than ever before. This will be an exciting bout for sure but one that I will come out of still champion."
Pacio is also using the recent events in the Philippines as motivation. He says he is dedicating the fight to everyone in Baguio affected by Typhoon Ompong.
There are two other Filipinos on the card. Flyweight Danny Kingad is taking on another Japanese pugilist, Yuya Wakamatsu while Pinay Jomary Torres squares off against hometown bet Priscilla Gaol in the women's atomweight (47 kg) fight.
Torres, 23, brings an umblemished 4-0 pro record into the cage on Saturday.
The native of Sindagan, Zamboanga del Norte is a former domestic helper who took an interest in MMA a few years ago. She became a receptionist in an MMA gym and eventually started training three years ago under former wushu world champion Rene Catalan, who has also fought in ONE. Torres won on her debut in URCC in 2016, downing Krisna Limbaga in a unanimous decision.
Torres began her ONE Championship career with a stunning rear naked choke submission of Rika Ishige in 2016 in Thailand. She claimed a unanimous decision over Rita Dea last year and this January kept her slate perfect with a ground-and-pound knockout triumph over Team Lakay's April Osenio.
Torres' fight against Gaol, who has a wushu background, is on the preliminary card and will not be included in the telecast. However, the contest can be viewed live on the ONE Championship app that can be downloaded on Google Play and iTunes App Store. – Rappler.com