Filipino strawweight contender Joshua “The Passion” Pacio will be challenging for the ONE Strawweight World Championship for the second time in his young career. At “ONE: Conquest of Heroes” on September 22, 2018 in Jakarta, Indonesia, he will once again share the cage with reigning strawweight titleholder Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito of Japan to determine who gets the right to call himself the king of ONE Championship’s 56.7-kilogram division.
This will be a rematch of their 2016 encounter for the championship, which saw the challenger Pacio showcasing his mettle as one of the top talents in the division with a solid performance in a losing effort and Naito proving why he was the defending champion with a third-round submission victory. At that time, it was just Pacio’s third endeavor on the ONE Championship stage, having won his first two bouts in impressive fashion.
Way before he was regarded as one of the Philippines’ best young mixed martial artists, Pacio started out as a fan sitting in the stands, watching and cheering on his mentors in Team Lakay. He said, “I still can’t believe it.”
“Before, I was just sitting there, up in the stands, watching my coaches compete,” Pacio continued. “Now, I’m competing alongside them as well.”
The 22-year old Baguio City native began his ONE Championship career in 2016 and has since posted a 6-2 record with notable wins over the likes of Kritsada Kongsrichai, former ONE Strawweight World champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke and most recently, Pongsiri Mitsatit. At “ONE: Conquest of Heroes,” the Team Lakay fighter he gets another opportunity at the coveted ONE Strawweight World Championship.
Pacio got into the martial arts world through Wushu, much like his seniors at Team Lakay. He initially thought that would be the farthest that his journey would take him.
“Never, in a million years, would I have known that getting into Wushu would take me this far.” Pacio explained. “I thought regional competitions in Wushu and national tournaments would be the final stop for me in terms of martial arts.”
Meanwhile, here is an interview with Pacio prior to his bout with Mitsatit: