JAKARTA, Indonesia: Igorot warrior Joshua “The Passion” Pacio bested Japanese grappling wizard Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito via unanimous decision in ONE: Conquest of Heroes on Saturday night to become the new ONE strawweight world champion at the Jakarta Convention Center here.
The 22-year old Pacio has joined the current list of ONE Championship titleholders from Team Lakay namely flyweight king Geje Estaquio and interim bantamweight champion Kevin Belingon.
“I am overjoyed. I just cannot explain what I am feeling now and, especially, when I was in the cage. Really, hard work pays off,” said Pacio during the postgame news conference.
The new champion dedicated his victory to the survivors of Typhoon Ompong that recently devastated northern Philippines.
“Last week, typhoons struck Baguio City, Benguet, and the Cordilleras. A lot of places were hit hard. Many people died and some are still missing. This is for all of them. I know that the Cordilleras will come back and rise again soon as one,” said the soft-spoken fighter.
Pacio’s masterful performance has avenged his rear-naked choke submission loss to Naito in October 2016.
Pacio unleashed a barrage of powerful leg kicks against Naito in the opening rounds and also managed to foil several takedown attempts by the Japanese
“I tried to counter his takedowns and grappling, but this guy is a legend. He was so tough,” Pacio said, who thanked his mentor Mark Sangiao for his improved performance.
The 34-year old Naito sustained his game with staple wrestling techniques but was unable to inflict considerable damage on Pacio.
The final round saw both fighters engaging in a technical grappling showdown but Pacio’s aggressive striking earned him the judges’ nod.
“I felt his power—that he wants to take me down but I resisted and refrained from passing the guard. I was always reminded of what Coach Mark used to say, ‘Never give your back.’ That’s why we let the game be played on the ground,” said Pacio.
The Baguio-born fighter improved his MMA record to 13-2 while Naito’s dropped to 13-2.
Pacio’s flyweight teammate Danny Kingad, meanwhile, also earned a unanimous decision win against another Japanese fighter Yuya “Little Piranha” Wakamatsu.
Kingad banked on his wrestling skills to counter Wakamatsu’s knee strikes and punches.
“I was hit hard by his punch that suddenly sent me to the ground. That’s when I thought of getting his leg and execute a takedown. It was then that I realized that I can do it,” said Kingad.
Kingad stretched his winning streak to three wins and hiked his MMA record to 7-1 while Wakamatsu’s dropped to 10-3.
Meanwhile, Filipina fighter Jomary Torres lost to Indonesian Priscilla Hertati “Thathi” Lumban Gaol by way of unanimous decision.
The aggressive Lumban Gaol overwhelmed Torres throughout the three-round atomweight contest.
Torres’ record dropped to four wins and one loss while Lumban Gaol’s improved to 4-2.
In the co-main event, Chinese grappler Peng Xue Wen bested local bet Stefer Rahardian via unanimous decision.
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