One mixed martial artist who knows how it feels to be the defending champion and to be the challenger is Joshua “The Passion” Pacio, 23, who trains at Team Lakay in Baguio City, Philippines. He is scheduled to have his rematch with reigning ONE Strawweight World Champion Yosuke “Tobizaru” Saruta, 31, who trains at Wajutsu Keishukai HEARTS in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan, at “ONE: Roots of Honor.”
“I need to be more aggressive, especially being the challenger,” Pacio stated. “I’m hungry to prove myself again and bounce back.”
If there is one thing Pacio wants to regain heading into the rematch, it is his never-say-die mindset in a crucial bout. He admitted that he lost a bit of confidence in their first outing and he vows to showcase that when they go at it again in the co-main event of “ONE: Roots of Honor,” which will take place at theMall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines on April 12, 2019.
“Now I need to focus even more, I need to be more confident,” Pacio said. “From what I saw in our last bout, my confidence was really low, and now I need to be more confident than ever.”
Saruta put together a tremendous performance, scoring a monumental upset of Pacio to capture the ONE Strawweight World Championship. The Japanese phenom was relentless with his chain wrestling, taking Pacio down on numerous occasions while trading powerful combinations on the feet.
Throughout five action-packed rounds, both Saruta and Pacio put forth their best effort. In the end, it was Saruta who was able to garner two of the three judges’ nods to win by split decision.
Although Pacio truly believes that he won the first contest, the Team Lakay standout understands where the judges are coming from and it is one of his key takeaways from his first meeting with Saruta. The Filipino challenger said, “I hope to showcase the things that I wasn’t able to show last January.”
The difference for Pacio now is he comes in as a hungry challenger, who is eager to prove himself as a mixed martial arts competitor. Now that he gets his rematch, in his home country nonetheless, he is certainly fueled to get back to the top of his division and give the hometown crowd something to cheer about.
There is pressure, especially with the hopes of the country resting on his shoulders. But rest assured, his drive and willingness to win far outweighs that.
“It’s pretty much the same. I’m excited and even more motivated because the rematch will happen here in the Philippines,” Pacio shared. “I must admit that there’s a bit of an added pressure on my part to perform, but at the same time, the hunger and the will to win far outweighs that.”
Meanwhile, here is my most recent interview with Pacio: