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.
Eduard “Landslide” Folayang is the NEW ONE Championship World Champion!
Just a few months ago, Eduard Folayang was at the crossroads of his fighting career.
His previous contract with ONE Championship ended last March, while the UFC announced its second Manila event as early as June. If Folayang wanted to test himself inside the Octagon, that was his opportunity.
But, as luck – or fate – would have it, the UFC never called, and in July, Folayang signed a new two-year deal with Asia’s largest MMA promotion. By August, Folayang fought and won a title eliminator against Adrian Pang. Soon after, the title fight between him and Shinya Aoki – unbeaten since 2012 – was announced.
To many, even to us Filipinos, defeating Shinya Aoki was a tall order, a gargantuan task for Folayang and Baguio-based Team Lakay. After all, the last person to defeat the Japanese grappling genius is currently sitting atop the UFC’s lightweight division and set to fight Conor McGregor this Sunday. Unfazed, Folayang, Coach Mark Sangiao, and the rest of his team prepared hard and well for what Aoki and Evolve MMA had in store for them.
All the hard work, all the preparation, led to tonight’s masterful performance.
In the first round, Aoki immediately closed the distance, cornering Folayang for a clinch. The difference maker was Aoki’s judo. Once on his back, Folayang had no other choice but to defend Aoki’s vicious submission attempts. But here’s the thing: “The Landslide” was able to defend. He was successful in defending the submission master’s attempts! Something all of Tobikan Judan’s opponents have failed to do in the past! As the bell rang, the viewing Filipino collective was able to let out a sigh of relief as our homegrown hero survived to fight another round.
Team Lakay Grappler’s Cup Going Strong with 25th Event
The North has long been a training ground for an explosive breed of submission fighters. In the recent Grappler’s Cup that took place at the Baguio Convention Center, grapplers from different teams showed just why they are a force in the local grappling scene.
The event attracted PXC and ONE fighters like Danny Kingad and Harold Banario, who won their respective divisions. Overall team champion was Team Lakay La Trinidad, which drew strength from their younger grapplers.
“That’s the fun part—they’re strong, agile, and most of them started out young,” said participant Joshua Abella (Toughguys Fabricio), who last fought and made a good showing against grapplers from the North during the wrestling nationals in 2009.
“The experience made me respect the skills of the Cordillerans when it comes to grappling. They are very technical, and at the same time, explosive and strong. I think most of them do not have the means to compete in Manila but arguably, you can find some of the best and toughest grapplers here.”
Congratulations to organizer Coach Mark Sangiao and all the winners! The rest of the teams that participated include Lakay Central, University of the Cordilleras Wushu Jaguars, Gridlock Gym, Lakay San Fernando City (La Union), Fight Corps MMA, Tribal Submission Team Torogi, Bravehearts Gym, Attackers Gym, and Toughguys Fabricio.