Before Jeremy “The Juggernaut” Pacatiw makes his much-awaited ONE Championship debut on Friday, he looked at the journey he took to become part of Team Lakay’s next generation.
Pacatiw, who takes on Chen “The Ghost” Rui in ONE: Battleground on July 20 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, shared that MMA was never on his mind when he was in high school, especially since he was focused on basketball and was a mean track star in his senior year.
“I had zero knowledge of [martial arts] when I came aboard. I was clueless about it. I was a basketball player and I ran on the track during high school, so totally clueless,” he said.
“I played during inter-school competitions in basketball, and when I was in my senior year, I transitioned to athletics, 400-meter individual hurdles.”
He said he get into martial arts out of necessity.
“The only time I’ve ever experienced martial arts is when I was in college. Financially, we were lacking so I had to find ways for me to study and help out my parents,” he said.
“I really wanted to finish my studies. So when my aunt told me that there was a scholarship available for wushu athletes in UC (University of the Cordilleras), I grabbed that opportunity –- and I’m happy I passed the eye test.”
Being a competitor through and through, it didn’t take long for Pacatiw to enjoy his new sport. He soon found himself joining local martial arts competitions.
“At first, it was just really for the scholarship. I never thought that I’d transition to mixed martial arts and compete on an international stage. I just wanted to study and finish my program. But when I continued training, my mindset changed. I wanted to do this,” Pacatiw said.
“I jumped over to mixed martial arts through the PXC Laban Baguio, coach Mark (Sangiao) saw the potential, and thankfully I won my first bout – then the next one. Then I won again.”
After a few years of grinding, Pacatiw will now be entering the biggest stage of his career, and while winning a ONE world title is his top priority, he plans to inspire kids like him to pursue what they want, regardless of their situation.
“I want to show kids and everyone following me that nothing is impossible. There will be setbacks, there will be losses, but you have to show that you are a fighter. You strive to be better, you keep moving forward amid the setbacks,” he said.
“I also have to show that I’m a good role model. I have to show that [positive] attitude and discipline. I have to be the role model for them.”