Joshua Pacio got back to winning ways at ONE Fight Night 15 this morning. The Filipino went the distance with the previously undefeated Mansur Malachiev at Lumpinee Stadium and claimed a decision win.

There wasn’t much to choose between the two fighters. Both were cut in the opening round but Malachiev’s left eye looked to have taken the more serious damage.

Malachiev’s right knee appeared to buckle and the Russian started signaling frantically to the referee. It seems the Russian was worried he might stop the fight but it wasn’t clear exactly what had happened or how.

Tight choke

If Malachiev was injured it didn’t stop him from taking Pacio down at the second time of asking, keeping him on his back for the remainder of the round. At the start of the second the Russian missed with a spinning back kick but clipped the former strawweight champion with a spinning back fist.

He immediately tried to lock in a guillotine but ended up on his back. Pacio was in side control but Malachiev reversed the position to put the Filipino on his back where he would remain until the end of the round.

Having spent so much time on his back Pacio probably knew he was behind heading into the third. He looked to land a low kick but Malachiev caught it and took him down.

This time it was Pacio who threatened, locking in a tight guillotine choke. It seemed like the fight might be on the verge of ending and an over excited member of ONE Championship staff even rang the bell.

Near submission

But Malachiev had already slipped out by that stage, even if the near submission would have caught the eye of the judges. The Russian landed some ground and pound but the referee decided to stand the two strawweights up.

A lull in the action ensued but with around a minute remaining Malachiev shot for a takedown. Pacio was able to defend initially and land some knees before being put on his back where he locked in another guillotine choke.

Malachiev was in no danger of being finished but the fight ended with him defending a submission. It was enough to convince all three judges to score the fight for Pacio who registered a first win since leaving Team Lakay to form Lion’s Nation MMA.

With the win he improves to 21-4 and potentially secures a rematch with reigning strawweight champion Jarred Brooks. Malachiev drops to 11-1 after losing for the first time in his career.