Joshua Pacio defends his title against Yosuke Saruta at ONE: ‘Revolution’ later this month. You might think that there was a shortage of contenders at strawweight given that he is being matched with the Japanese fighter for the third time.
But that is definitely not the case with Bokang Masunyane, Hiroba Minowa and Jarred Brooks all hoping for a shot at the champion. When asked who he thought was the weakest of the three the champion had no hesitation in naming the American,
“I think (he is the weakest of the three). He talks a lot.”
Train and repeat
The last time they fought Pacio knocked Saruta out midway through the fourth round. The finish seemed to come out of nowhere but the Filipino says years of training went into that moment,
“That finish was part of our game plan. It’s something I’ve been doing, training and repeating for 15 years, so I don’t think luck played a part in that.”
The champion is also adamant that he didn’t ‘get lucky’ in that fight,
“I have been doing martial arts half of my life. I’ve been training and working on all my tools for a whole lot of time. Maybe if I was only training for two months, and I knocked him out, then we can say I’m lucky. But that’s not the case.”
He was unfortunate to drop a split decision in the first fight and feels he should have won,
“I felt like I didn’t give it my all in the first fight (but) I thought that I won. Luckily, I got an immediate rematch.”
Having shared the cage with Saruta for nearly nine rounds Pacio knows his opponent very well. They say that familiarity breeds content but the Filipino says it gives him confidence,
“We know each other well. We faced each other twice, and for me, I’m more confident, I’m different now. Wherever this match goes, whether it be a wrestling match, a match contested on the ground, or on the feet, I’m confident.”
He thinks a lack of confidence affected him in the first fight but is adamant that won’t be the case this month,
“If you look back on the first fight, I wasn’t that confident back then. I don’t think the same can be said now.”
If Pacio can get past Saruta then there are plenty of strawweight contenders waiting in the wings. But he thinks UFC veteran Brooks is the weakest of them, it will be interesting to see if that fight ever gets made.