BAGUIO CITY – Joshua Pacio relinquished ownership of the ONE Strawweight championship during the first event for 2019 held last January 19 at Jakarta Indonesia.
Fellow Team Lakay mainstay Edward Kelly also succumbed to an abbreviated loss, leaving the victorious Robin Catalan as the one helping the Philippines avoid a shutout during ONE: ETERNAL GLORY.
Pacio, defending his Strawweight title for the first time, could not muster enough points from the judges as challenger Yosuke “Tobizaru” Saruta of Japan edged out the former champion via a split decision.
The Japanese executed a series of takedowns while putting relentless pressure to “The Passion” to take over possession of the crown.
Saruta improves his career record to 19-8-3, capturing the title in only his second ONE Championship bout.
Pacio’s loss ended his winning streak at four and drops him to 11-3, all losses coming against Japanese opponents. It was his first decision loss, after being submitted twice.
A rematch on the horizon between the two fighters is very likely as ONE chairman Chatri Sityodtong have been reported to believe that Pacio won the bout and is interested in cooking a second bout.
Meanwhile, Kelly could not follow up on his controversial win against Christian Lee as “The Warrior” delivered on his promise of a first round finish against “The Ferocious”.
Kelly was quickly pressured right at the bell with Lee looking to execute his signature guillotine choke which eventually took both fighters to the mat. It didn’t take long for the bout to end from that point.
Kelly immediately wriggled to avoid being locked by the submission move but forced him to be on his back with Lee mounted on top.
Lee then rained elbows that turned to punches forcing the referee to put an end to the contest at the 2:53 mark of the first round.
With the win, Lee avenged his previous loss to Kelly during their first face-off last September, 2018, as fight he controlled only to loss by executing an illegal suplex move.
Lee set a new record for the most finishes in ONE Championship history at 11 and tied Kevin Belingon, Eduard Folayang, and Amir Khan’s record for most victories in in ONE, also at 11.
Lee has three career losses, the other two both to Martin Nguyen.
Kelly drops to 11 wins and 6 losses in his career. He has now four losses via TKO/KO.
On the other hand, Robin Catalan prevented the Philippines from being shutout in the evening by delivering the second career loss of Indonesian star Stefer Rahardian by a unanimous decision.
“The Illongo” used the leg kicks and connected on 1-2 punch combinations to keep the crowd favorite from being able to find an opening to execute his plan of attack.
Catalan punctuated his night with a brilliant slam late in the third and final round to seal the win.
The loss was the second straight for Rahardian with the first being inflicted by brother Rene during ONE: REIGN OF KINGS at the Mall of Asia Arena last July 27, 2018. Rahardian was previously undefeated in 9 bouts before facing the Catalan Brothers.
Catalan improved his career record to 9-4, now with 3 decisions to go along with 2 kayoes, 3 submissions and 1 disqualification win by an illegal move from his opponent.
By: ARMANDO M. BOLISLIS