Competing out of the famed Team Lakay stable in Baguio City, Philippines, Joshua “The Passion” Pacio, 22, has built for himself a nice three-match winning streak with all three victories coming by way of stoppage. In his most recent ONE Championship bout, he earned a first-round submission win over his previously unbeaten Thai opponent Pongsiri “The Smiling Assassin” Mitsatit, 22.
Pacio is ready to get another opportunity to challenge reigning ONE Strawweight World Champion is Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito, 34, of Japan in a rematch. But for the Team Lakay fighter, that is not what he’s focused on.
“I’m not thinking of a title shot right now,” Pacio stated. “But if ONE Championship decides to give it to me, of course, I’ll grab it immediately. Training doesn’t stop for me, so that when the call comes, I’m always ready.”
Like Pacio, Rene “The Challenger” Catalan, 39, is also a top contender in ONE Championship’s strawweight division. There is a possibility that ONE Championship will pit the two Filipino mixed martial artists against each other to determine Naito’s next challenger.
“If Sir Rene and I happen to get matched up together, it’s going to be a big privilege for me as I get to test myself against one of the pioneers of mixed martial arts here in the Philippines,” Pacio shared. “I’ve been watching Sir Rene since I was a kid. I watched him compete in the Asian Games.”
Much like Pacio’s Team Lakay coaches Mark Sangiao and Eduard “Landslide” Folayang, 34, and Mark Sangiao, Catalan is a decorated Wushu practitioner and was a gold medalist for the Philippines in the 2006 Asian Games. Pacio may be significantly younger than Catalan but the former is definitely more experienced in MMA, having more than twice as many bouts as the latter.
For Pacio, his experience in ONE Championship will play to his advantage. He explained, “I’ve faced the top contenders in our division, guys like the current champion Yoshitaka Naito, Hayato Suzuki, Dejdamrong Amnuaysirichoke and Pongsiri Misatit.”
“These guys are no joke,” Pacio said of his previous opponents. “These guys are tough competition.”
There is a big difference in facing a fellow Filipino compared to facing someone from another country, Pacio acknowledged. But for the Team Lakay fighter, it is really nothing personal.
“There’s a big difference if you’re competing against a fellow Filipino,” Pacio said. “That’s your blood. Of course, it feels different.”
“But in the end, we’re sportsmen, and this is just a test of skills and talents,” Pacio continued. “If we do end up sharing the cage on our way to a title shot, then I would have no problems with that.”
Meanwhile, here is an interview with Pacio before he faced Mitsatit: