WATCH: Joshua Pacio scores sensational KO, reclaims ONE title
MANILA, Philippines – Joshua “The Passion” Pacio (17-3) ended Team Lakay’s championship woes as he put Yosuke “The Ninja” Saruta (19-9-3) straight to the canvas to reclaim the ONE strawweight championship in the ONE: Roots of Honor on Friday night, April 12, at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Pacio connected a stunning right knee in Saruta’s temple, forcing the referee to stop the fight halfway through the 4th round.
The two fighters first clashed in Jakarta last January, where the Filipino lost his strawweight title in a controversial split-decision loss against his Japanese foe.
Saruta was able to land a solid right hand in Pacio’s face late in the opening round, but Team Lakay’s bet was able to recover quickly.
“The Passion” evaded the Japanese’s takedown attempts all throughout the match and finally found his groove early in the 3rd round where he started to connect clean blows including spinning back kicks and punch combinations.
This was Team Lakay’s first ONE championship crown since Kevin Belingon and Eduard Folayang failed to defend their respective titles in Japan last March. (READ: Lakay losses pile up as Belingon, Folayang drop world titles)
Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen of Vietnam and Australia also continued his reign over the featherweight division with a spectacular knockout victory over former world champion Narantungalag Jadambaa of Mongolia to retain the featherweight itle.
Nguyen and Jadambaa exchanged thunderous strikes in the opening round, both looking to end the night early.
In the 2nd round, Nguyen punished Jadambaa with powerful kicks to the leg before unleashing a perfectly-placed flying knee to take the Mongolian star out and remain the featherweight division’s king.
Meanwhile, the Kelly brothers found themselves on different sides of a knockout finish.
Team Lakay’s Edward “The Ferocious” Kelly (12-6) scored a technical knockout (TKO) against the Sung Jong Lee of South Korea (2-5) at the 2:51 mark of the 2nd round.
The South Korean asserted grappling mastery and unleashed multiple submission attempts in the opening round against the Baguio-native fighter, including a deep Achilles Lock attempt.
But the 35-year-old Kelly managed to break free and successfully assaulted Lee on the ground with heavy blows and knee strikes to the head.
Kelly, though, was slapped with a yellow card after throwing a kick to his foe’s face while during a leg lock.
Lee tried to continue his grappling dominance in the 2nd round, but Kelly poured a barrage of punches and eventually finished the high-octane contest through ground and pound.
Unfortunately, his brother, Eric “The Natural” Kelly (12-7) suffered a devastating first-round stoppage against “Pretty Boy” Kwon Won Il (9-1) from South Korea.
The 23-year-old South Korean swiftly landed a right straight early in the opening round that put “The Natural” to the ground and quickly pummeled the Filipino brawler.
Won Il only needed 19 seconds to knock out Eric Kelly, who’s now sitting on a six-game losing slump.
Aside from Pacio and Edward Kelly, Ramon “The Bicolano” Gonzales (4-2) also notched a victory as he forced Akihiro Fujisawa (5-1) to submit just 1:19 in the 1st round.
Gonzales was able to turn things around after being locked against the cage by his Japanese foe and sneaked in a standing guillotine choke. – Leigh Nald Cabildo/Rappler.com