MMA: Joshua Pacio open to shift in weight class, but strawweight remains priority

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 16 2022 05:23 PM

ONE strawweight champion Joshua Pacio. Handout photo. 
ONE strawweight champion Joshua Pacio. Handout photo. 

MANILA, Philippines -- Reigning ONE strawweight champion Joshua Pacio has arguably nothing left to prove in his division, having beaten a host of challengers including Japanese rival Yosuke Saruta.

It is thus no surprise that the 26-year-old Team Lakay standout is open to competing in a different weight division, possibly the flyweight class that is currently ruled by Brazilian star Adriano Moraes and features the legendary Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson.

"Actually, sumagi 'yan noong last year, noong katatapos nating tinalo si Saruta, sumagi 'yan sa isip ko," Pacio admitted in a recent interview.

Pacio had fought Saruta in a trilogy bout at ONE: Revolution in September 2021, in what was his third defense of his strawweight belt. They had split their first two meetings, with Saruta upsetting Pacio in January 2019 before Pacio got his revenge in April of that year when he knocked out the Japanese fighter.

The Filipino champion was dominant in their third fight, stopping Saruta in the very first round to retain his title.

Having firmly established himself as the top dog of the division, Pacio admitted that he entertained some thoughts of shifting weight classes.

However, his focus remains on the strawweight class which now features a host of new challengers.

"Nasa isip natin 'yan pero 'yung priority natin is siyempre to defend 'yung strawweight pa rin, 'yung mga taong nasa rankings ng strawweight, doon tayo naka-focus," Pacio stressed. "Pero siyempre, 'pag binigyan ng opportunity, why not."

Though he has already conquered Saruta, new challengers have emerged for Pacio, including brash American Jarred Brooks who just recently stunned his Team Lakay stablemate, Lito Adiwang.

Another potential challenger is Hiroba Minowa, and former champion Yoshitaka Naito.

"Kahit noong wala pa ako sa ONE, minamata ko na talaga 'yung strawweight division," said Pacio, who touted the progress that his weight class has made since he entered the promotion in 2016.

"Noong 2016 na pumasok tayo, hanggang ngayon, ang laki ng growth ng strawweight division. 'Yun nga, grabe 'yung nagle-level up na 'yung mga athletes, and of course, pumapasok na 'yung mga athletes sa iba-ibang bansa, like sila Jarred Brooks," he said.

"Grabe talaga 'yung, kung paano nag-level up 'yuung strawweight division," he added. "Ang bilis kumbaga, ang bilis. Two years, two years span ng strawweight division, ang bilis tumaas."

Given the wealth of possibilities, Pacio says all he can do is to stay ready for whenever ONE Championship comes calling.

"We are ready kung kahit sino," he guaranteed.

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