MMA: Pacio wants to wrap up unfinished business with Saruta

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 24 2021 05:43 PM

ONE strawweight champion Joshua “The Passion” Pacio wants to finish his trilogy with Yosuke “The Ninja” Saruta before taking on new challenges. 

The Team Lakay star has almost cleared out his entire division, owning wins over the top-ranked Saruta, No. 2-ranked Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito, No. 5-ranked Alex “Little Rock” Silva, and former top contender Rene “The Challenger” Catalan. 

But while there are new challenges awaiting Pacio, particularly No. 3-ranked Bokang “Little Giant” Masunyane, he’s leaning towards finishing his business with Saruta. 

“For me, a trilogy is unfinished business. I’ll go for the trilogy against Saruta. And after that, it could be Bokang or it could be anyone that they want me to face,” Pacio said. 

The 25-year-old did acknowledge Masunyane’s wide range of skills, evident in his win against Ryuto “Dragon Boy” Sawada and Catalan, defeating the former through his wrestling, while knocking out the latter with a headkick. 

It might not be now, but he expects to share the Circle with Masunyane soon. 

“He’s very explosive. His athleticism is through the roof. He also has power in his hands. He’s a wrestler, but I know he’s looking to become a well-rounded athlete, and we’ve seen that against Rene Catalan when he scored that knockout,” Pacio said. 

“His explosiveness and athleticism make him a handful against anyone in the strawweight division.” 

Masunyane will have to wait though, as Pacio plans to wrap up his rivalry with Saruta in impressive fashion. 

The Japanese athlete won their initial meeting when he outsmarted Pacio on the feet and took a split-decision win and the ONE strawweight world title in 2019. 

It did not take long for Pacio to get his immediate rematch, and he knocked Saruta out in the fourth round to regain his strap before defending it against Catalan and Silva to ultimately prove his dominance in the division. 

The only way he can cement his legacy now is to close his chapter with Saruta. 

“I think it’s going to be amazing if a trilogy takes place. We know each other well, we’ve faced each other twice. He knows my style and I know his. I think whoever’s improved the most since that second fight will win,” he said. 

“I think I’m leveling up, but at the same time he’s also improved – I’ve seen him beat Naito and he was really impressive. 

“Of course, his confidence is rising, but my job as a world champion is to improve more, improve better than [my] challengers.” 

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