ONE strawweight king Joshua Pacio is a champion for a good reason.
He proved this by obliterating "The Ninja" Yosuke Saruta in the first round of their trilogy fight in "ONE: Revolution" at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday.
Pacio needed only over three minutes to find his opening which was a lazy low kick by Saruta.
The Team Lakay fighter immediately grabbed Saruta's foot and nailed the Japanese with a looping right hand to the head.
Saruta fell down but tried to stand up, only to be greeted with three consecutive left hooks, which sent him reeling to the cage.
Pacio chased him for the finish until the referee stopped the contest 3:38 into the first round.
"It's been one year and eight months I've been out," said Pacio, referring to his layoff from the cage.
"It's been hard but I'm ready and proved I'm here to stay as a champion."
It was their third meeting.
Saruta first locked horns with Pacio in 2019, when he surprised Pacio by winning a close split decision to wrest the strawweight belt from the Filipino's grasp. The two figured in an immediate rematch shortly after, but Pacio was able to even up the score and reclaim his title via a thrilling head kick knockout victory.
"It's really about who's going to find the opening and I did it," said Pacio when asked for his keys to victory.
"We've been working on our strength and weaknesses, and we've worked with the counter."
Pacio also destroyed the curse that hounded Team Lakay in trilogy fights.
Three of his teammates, Eduard Folayang, Geje Eustaquio and Kevin Belingon all lost in their respective rubber matches.
Earlier in the night, his teammate Lito Adiwang was also victorious against Hexigetu of China.