Control Over Submission: Breaking Down Joshua Pacio’s Arm Triangle Submission


Joshua Pacio Defends His Title with the Perfect Arm Triangle Setup

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At ONE: Masters of Fate, Joshua Pacio proved that he is not a one-sub wonder. The Team Lakay wunderkind secured a second-round arm triangle submission against fellow Filipino Rene Catalan to successfully defend his ONE strawweight championship. With the win, he improves his record to 15-3, with two of these losses already avenged against Yoshitaka Naito and Yosuke Saruta.

Submissions are not new to Pacio’s game. Prior to this, 6 of his 14 wins came via submission. All except one, however, came via guillotine or rear-naked choke. It was his fight against Pongsiri Mitsatit that turned heads, when he secured a rare hammerlock from back mount that earned the Lakay Submission of the Year honors in 2018. I wrote in a previous article (see “Joshua Pacio’s ‘Passion Lock'”) that the hammerlock was most likely a result of Mitsatit’s lack of grappling experience as much as it was Pacio’s ever-improving ground game. After Masters of Fate, I may need to reassess my stance in favor of the latter.

While his latest submission is not a rarity in MMA competition, Pacio’s textbook arm triangle setup was a thing of beauty, more so in light of Team Lakay naysayers proliferating anew since the team’s recent skid. In a fight between two Wushu practitioners, we could predict that the duel would either be a striking spectacle or be contested on the ground to negate each other’s strengths. (Although, as a second-generation Lakay, Pacio’s career has been focused on MMA since the beginning compared to his manongs’ Wushu background.)


I was actually surprised that it was Rene Catalan who was initiating the clinch and ground battles. The first round saw Catalan attempt a heel hook and then a knee bar to no avail, and in the second a failed takedown attempt from “The Challenger” led to the fight-ending sequence. Pacio converted his sprawl into a takedown, moving quickly to side mount.