Joshua Pacio made his expectations to reality as he knocked out No. 1 Contender Yosuke Saruta in the first round to successfully defend his strawweight title at ONE: REVOLUTION held on September 24, 2021 at Singapore.
The 25-year old Team Lakay next generation star connected a right straight against an onrushing Saruta that that send the Japanese to the mat. Although “The Ninja” quickly sprang up to his feet, he clearly felt the hit as a series quick combinations that Pacio unleashed to follow up his initial attack backed off the Japanese and rendered him defenseless against the fence.
With the “Passion” on an onslaught, firing left hands that landed cleanly to Saruta’s face, the referee was forced to stop the carnage at the 3:38 mark of the first to prevent further damage.
With the win, Pacio became the first Team Lakay member to emerge triumphant in a triology.
The fight lived to its billing as both fighters promised to finish the other without going the distance and appeared ready to end the fight at anytime as soon as the opening bell sounded.
In the end, it was the “Passion” who needed less than a round to end their World Title trilogy in style.
The action started slowly with both men sizing up each other in a stand up game.
Saruta took position at center of the Circle, a strategy that surprised Pacio as his opponent is playing right into his bread and butter style instead of the wrestling. He, however, remained composed and instead took advantage of the opportunity.
His first attempt at the Japanese came in the form of a left high kick that connected to the head. Saruta meanwhile connected a low kick to Pacio’s left leg and attempted to catch two kicks.
Pacio delivered the first big hit when he returned the favor by catching Saruta’s left low kick and following it with an overhead right that send the Japanese to the mat.
Saruta, however, was quickly back on his feet and the match continued without a count.
After more sizing up, Saruta fired another lazy low kick that landed in the Team Lakay star’s hands again. Pacio then derailed an spinning elbow attempt and fired a combination that almost grazed his opponent.
This trend would eventually led to the sensational finish.
As the Wajutsu Keishukai Hearts representative exchanged a few kicks and punches with Pacio, “The Ninja” stubbornly went again low with his feet lazily.
Pacio was more happy to oblige and capitalize on the opportunity. He once again caught the Saruta kick and land his right straight to send the Japanese challenger back to the mat.
When Saruta rose up quickly again, Pacio gave him no room to run by firing a left cross that send his opponent back to the canvass face first.
Saruta was quickly back on his feet for the third time but there was no more escape from an onrushing Pacio.
A three punch combination sent the 34-year-old challenger against the Circle Wall and three more lefts that connected on the face of a now kneeling Saruta forced the referee to halt the bout.
“It’s really about who’s going to find the right opening in this match, and I did it,” Pacio said in the post-fight interview. “We’ve been working on all of our strengths and weaknesses. We’re working on our counters as well. We’re working on our offense, and you can see it [in that finish].”
The win pushed Pacio to 20-3, and defended the ONE Strawweight World Title for the third time since reclaiming it from Saruta on April 2019.
It will be recalled he lost the title by split decision in their first World Title affair back on January 2019.
While top contenders Bokang Masunyane, Hiroba Minowa, and newcomer Jarred “Monkey God” Brooks all present dangerous threats in the strawweight division, Pacio prefers to take on another triology, this time with No. 2 contender Yoshitaka Naito.
On October 2016, Naito dealt Pacio’s first career loss after 11 straight wins. It was also his first attempt at the strawweight title.
Pacio did got the opportunity to face Naito under the same circumstances on September 2018 and came out with the victory.
A third match with Naito will give them another triology where the strawweight title is at stake, just like that with Saruta’s.
By Armando M. Bolislis