Training out of Team Lakay in La Trinidad, Benguet, Philippines, Joshua “The Passion” Pacio, 22, is set to defend his belt as the reigning ONE Strawweight World Champion for the first time. He was scheduled to have his rematch with Hayato Suzuki, 32, at “ONE: Eternal Glory” at the Istora Senayan in Jakarta, Indonesia on January 19, 2019.
However, Suzuki was pulled out of the card due to medical concerns. He is fighting out of Takahagi City, Ibaraki, Japan and training out of Brave Gym in Kita Senju, Adachi-ku, Tokyo, Japan.
Suzuki was replaced by a fellow Japanese ONE Championship athlete. Pacio’s new challenger at “ONE: Eternal Glory” is Yosuke “Tobizaru” Saruta, 31.
Fighting out of of Saitama, Japan, Saruta is a former Shooto Strawweight World Champion. He is training out of Wajutsu Keishukai HEARTS in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan.
On December 7, 2018, Saruta made his ONE Championship debut “ONE: Destiny of Champions” at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He defeated former ONE Strawweight World Champion Alex “Little Rock” Silva, 36, of Sao Paulo, Brazil via unanimous decision.
Featuring one kickboxing contest, one Muay Thai bout and 12 mixed martial arts matches, “ONE: Eternal Glory” will mark Saruta’s second bout in ONE Championship. It will be his 29th bout as a professional MMA fighter.
Currently, Saruta has 18 wins, 8 losses and 3 draws. On the other hand, Pacio now has 16 wins and 2 losses.
“ONE: Eternal Glory” will mark Pacio’s 11th bout in ONE Championship. He faced former ONE Strawweight World Champion Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito, 34, of Matsudo, Chiba, Japan twice.
On October 7, 2016, Pacio challenged Naito in the main event of “ONE: State of Warriors” at the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar. The Team Lakay fighter lost via rear-naked choke submission.
The rematch between Pacio and Naito was the main event of “ONE: Conquest of Heroes” at the Jakarta Convention Center in Jakarta, Indonesia on September 22, 2018. The Filipino challenger dethroned the Japanese defending champion via unanimous decision.
Saruta will be the ninth opponent to be faced by Pacio in ONE Championship. The former will be the third Japanese fighter to face the Team Lakay fighter in a professional MMA bout.
Here is a recent interview with the reigning ONE Strawweight World Champion: