Team Lakay prospect Joshua Pacio is focused on Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke this Saturday night
After a hard-fought title loss to reigning ONE world strawweight champion Yoshitaka Naito last October, it would be an injustice to say that this Saturday’s title eliminator against former champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke (DSA) is Joshua Pacio’s toughest challenge yet. It is however safe to say that it would be one of the toughest challenges not only of his young career, but possibly its entirety thereof.
Earning his keep in Pro-Am leagues before debuting in ONE Championship last April 2016, fighting in Asia’s largest MMA promotion had something both expected and surprising for Pacio. “Ever since I was in Pro-Am, I had my sights set on ONE [Championship],” Joshua told MMA Philippines in this exclusive. “I knew that once I stepped foot on ONE, I will only be fighting high-level opponents from here on out.” He continued, “ONE is such a big stage for MMA. When I first fought in ONE, the audience was a big difference for me. Paglabas ko sa entrance papunta sa cage, grabe ang dami at lakas ng sigaw ng mga tao! (When I walked out towards the cage, the volume of people and their cheers were exhilarating!)”
Despite the nerves he may have felt at the time, Pacio quickly racked up two wins at ONE before facing the undefeated Naito. After controlling the fight for two rounds using his range and takedown defense, Pacio fell prey to a rear naked choke which the crafty Japanese converted from a failed takedown attempt.
“Committing just one mistake can lead to a loss. That’s my lesson from that fight.”
It was the first loss of Pacio’s young career, but the Team Lakay fighter saw it not as a setback, but an opportunity to grow as a professional fighter. “My last fight against Naito was such a great and beautiful experience. I see that loss as a means for me to become a better fighter. This learning experience will make me ready for when I fight for the belt once more,” says Pacio. “One mistake lang pwede ka nang matalo. Yun ang lesson sa akin. (Committing just one mistake can lead to a loss. That’s my lesson from that fight.)” As to where his head was after the fight, Joshua added, “I didn’t feel down or disappointed after my first loss. That experience serves as an inspiration and motivation to learn and push myself more to become a better fighter and soon to be champion.”
Pacio also draws inspiration from Lakay teammate and reigning ONE world lightweight champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang. “Manong Eduard is such a great example and role model. I look up to him,” Joshua says of Folayang. “If you look at his career, he had his ups and downs, wins and losses. He got knocked out. But, did it become a hindrance for him to become champion? No. He went straight back to the gym, resumed training, and assessed his mistakes from his past fights to capture the belt from Shinya Aoki, one of the most feared fighters in Asia.” The respect and admiration goes both ways, as Folayang had nothing but good things to say about the second generation Lakay fighters – fighters who set out to compete in MMA from the beginning – of which Joshua Pacio and Danny Kingad are leading the charge.
“My team and I have a very good game plan in this fight.”
While pundits and fans seem focused on the promised rematch with Naito should Pacio win on Saturday, Joshua is not looking past his next opponent: DSA, the multiple Lumpinee champion who became ONE Championship’s first strawweight champion. “I have a lot of respect for DSA,” says the Lakay prospect. “He was the champion before I fought in ONE; I would watch him because he is one of my idols. He is a vicious striker, but this is MMA. That’s the beauty of it: You can fight striking, wrestling, grappling, etc. You can build many game plans, and my team and I have a very good game plan in this fight.”
Pacio is in fact a firm believer of having a game plan, describing himself as “a man with a plan.” “In every fight, you really need a plan,” continues the Lakay. “Hindi lang basta sugod, suntok, at sipa. (You cannot just charge, punch, and kick your way to victory.) You need to stick with the game plan, and if it doesn’t work, then you need to plan your next step.”
“Of course, the main goal is to win this fight whatever happens,” Pacio closes this interview. “I want to get to that position to fight for the belt again and make the Philippines proud!”
Let us support Joshua Pacio as he represents the country in arguably one the best strawweight match-ups in ONE Championship. ONE: Warrior Kingdom will go down this March 11 at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand.
John Hudson Go is the Editor-in-Chief of MMA Philippines.
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