Representing Team Lakay, Joshua “The Passion” Pacio, 23, of the Philippines has reclaimed his title as the ONE Strawweight World Champion. The Filipino mixed martial artist was one of the winners at “ONE: Roots of Honor.”
Featuring two Muay Thai matches, two kickboxing contests and 12 mixed martial arts bouts, “ONE: Roots of Honor” took place at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines on April 12, 2019. In the co-main event of the evening, Pacio challenged then reigning ONE Strawweight World Champion Yosuke “The Ninja” Saruta, 31, of Japan in a rematch.
Kemp Cheng served as the referee of the bout. He put a stop to the contest after 2 minutes and 34 seconds in the fourth round when Pacio knocked out Saruta via head kick.
Winning at “ONE: Roots of Honor” improved Pacio’s professional MMA record to 17 wins and 3 losses. On the other hand, Saruta now has 19 wins, 9 losses and 3 draws.
“I’m so speechless right now,” Pacio told Mitch Chilson during the post-fight cage interview. “First of all, I wanna thank God for the strength and to all my Filipino kababayans (compatriots) here who came out and support. Thank you very much.”
“Like what I said the last time we faced each other, there’s a lot of hesitation coming out to that fight and our game plan, I just applied it here the whole time and you saw it,” Pacio continued. “Thank you very much. Mga kababayan, belt nating lahat ‘to. (Compatriots, this belt belongs to all of us.) Thank you!”
The victory at “ONE: Roots of Honor” made Pacio the second ONE Championship athlete to become the champion in the strawweight division twice. The first one was Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito, 35, of Japan.
Pacio and Saruta’s first encounter was the main event of “ONE: Eternal Glory” at the Istora Senayan in Jakarta, Indonesia on January 19, 2019. The Filipino fighter was then the reigning ONE Strawweight World Champion and was originally set to have his rematch with Hayato Suzuki, 32, of Japan, who was pulled out of the card due to injury and was replaced by Saruta.
Olivier Coste served as the referee of the main event of “ONE: Eternal Glory.” After five five-minute rounds, Saruta dethroned Pacio via split decision.
Meanwhile, here are ONE Championship chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong along with Pacio and his Team Lakay family at the “ONE: Roots of Honor” post-fight press conference: