Joshua Pacio must be thinking of work during the holiday break.
This is because ONE Championship just announced that he would be defending his ONE Strawweight World title against Hayato Suzuki at in the main event of ONE: Eternal Glory on January 19, 2019 at Istora Senayan, Jakarta.
Suzuki is the same man that dealt The Passion his second career loss last August 5, 2017. That night was a nightmare for Pacio as he had to tap out just 3:17 into the bout due to a rear naked choke.
The bout was also Suzuki’s ONE Championship debut and he did impressed and passed his first test against opposition in foreign soil and lived up to his billing as a well-rounded warrior who has the ability to stop his foes with his heavy hands and technical grappling skills with his victory over Pacio.
Suzuki immediately lost his second ONE bout to Alex Silva three months after. Since then, however, the Japanese grappler has been on a tear, winning his last three bouts with the same submission hold, one of which came against an opponent that Pacio had already beaten, Pongsiri Mitsatit.
Pacio, however, have three things going for him in the rematch.
First, he should not be caught by any surprises this time as he have enough tape of Suzuki to study and should be aware of what his opponent can do, unlike in their first fight where there was probably little known about the Japanese who was then fighting his first against a foreigner outside of Japan.
Second, he showed he learned how to extend a fight by defending against submission moves and reverse the outcome of a previously bad match even if stakes are higher in the rematch. That’s what he exactly did to Suzuki’s compatriot Yoshitaka Naito.
Pacio also succumbed under similar circumstances, tapping out due to a rear-naked choke at the 1:33 mark of the first round, against Naito during their first match on October 7, 2016 but reversed the outcome in the second, winning via a unanimous decision, last September 22, 2018, to capture the ONE Strawweight World title.
Third, the young Cordilleran fighter, only 22, has shown tremendous improvement of his game over the past few years leading up to his title reign. Since losing to Suzuki, he upgraded his arsenal of weapons, as evidenced by the way he ended three of his four straight wins then.
He finished fellow-Filipino Roy Dolinguez in the second round by a spinning backfist, ended his fight with Ming Qiang Lan by rear-naked choke in the first round, and sent home Mitsatit in the first by displaying the hammerlock submission move for the first time to ONE audiences, a move he christened “The Passion Lock”.
Pacio is carrying a 13-2 career fight record to this match while Suzuki is coming in with an impressive 20-1, although most of his wins came in fights against fellow countrymen at home.
This event officially kicks off ONE Championship’s 2019 season.
By: ARMANDO M. BOLISLIS
Banner photo: Joshua Pacio would love to replace this image in their rematch as he could not do anything but tap out to a rear-nake choke by Hayato Suzuki in ONE: Kings and Conquerors in Macao last August 5, 2017. Photo by: ONE Championship