Reigning ONE strawweight champion Joshua Pacio believes that no one deserves a shot at his crown more than his archrival, top contender Yosuke Saruta.
The two have squared off in a pair of close and exciting matches, and now they’ll put a lid on their rivalry when they clash in the co-main event of ONE: Revolution on September 24.
“I’ve always wanted this fight because I think this is where we’re headed anyway,” Pacio said.
“One way or another we have to finish this trilogy because he’s also the number one contender. We might as well make it happen because I know he’ll be in this position for a long time. He deserves it.”
It was Saruta who won their first match, fighting smart and keeping Pacio on his heels to beat the Filipino via decision after a close contest.
Pacio got him back three months later, landing a knee to the head in the fourth round to win the rematch in decisive fashion.
The Saruta camp felt Pacio got lucky with that shot, but Pacio isn’t buying it.
“Maybe for them [that was lucky], but I have been doing martial arts half of my life. I’ve been training and working on all my tools for a whole lot of time. Maybe if I was only training for two months and I knocked him out, then we can say I was lucky. But that’s not the case,” Pacio said.
“That finish was part of our game plan. It’s something I’ve been doing, training, and repeating for 15 years, so I don’t think luck played a part.”
With less than two weeks before the match, Pacio can’t wait to show Saruta how much he has improved since their last meeting.
“His explosiveness and athleticism could give me problems. He’s a gymnast so he’s really athletic and flexible,” Pacio said.
“At the end of the day, the reason why I struggled with him back then was confidence. I was able to recover it in the rematch, and [this time] we can go beyond what I did in the rematch.”