MMA, martial arts

Joshua Pacio’s rough road back to world title contention brings out the best in him

Kemp Cheng, Joshua Pacio

Kemp Cheng, Joshua Pacio

Every time Joshua “The Passion” Pacio, 22, steps into the ONE Championship cage, he is in pursuit of a lifelong dream, one that he has had since a young boy growing up in Baguio City in the Philippines. He has already conquered the Philippine and regional martial arts scenes, winning several titles along the way, so only one target remains, the ONE Strawweight World Championship.

The Team Lakay standout may be one of the younger competitors in the organization. But he has already emerged as a seasoned leader in one of the most well-respected gyms in Asia and could be the next martial arts superstar of the Philippines.

Ever since falling short in his bid to capture the ONE Strawweight World Championship title against then-titleholder Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito in October 2016, Pacio was a man on a mission to catapult himself back into title contention. However, it was not a smooth path going back to the world title stage for Pacio as he has had a mixed run of results.

After a career-defining split decision win over former world champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke in March 2017, Pacio was then submitted by top Japanese prospect Hayato Suzuki in the first round of their clash in August 2017.

Pacio managed to redeem himself by scoring a highlight-reel knockout of former boxing champion and compatriot Roy Doliguez in November 2017. Still, the Team Lakay fighter looks for consistency with regards to his performance inside the ONE Championship cage.

On January 26, 2017, Pacio will co-headline “ONE: Global Superheroes” at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines with China’s Lan Ming Qiang, 24, who replaced the original opponent, Thailand’s Pongsiri Mitsatit, 21. The main event is a rematch between Kazakhstan’s Kairat “The Kazakh” Akhtemov, 30, and Pacio’s fellow Team Lakay fighter Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio, 28.

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