"Dati nasa Upper Box lang ako," - Team Lakay's Joshua Pacio impressed in his international debut

Santino Honasan on Aug 16, 2016 12:55 PM
Team Lakay's Pacio impressed in his international debut
"Hindi pa din ako makapaniwala na dati, nasa Upper Box lang ako noon na nanonood sa kanila, tapos ngayon lumalaban na." - Joshua Pacio

Team Lakay upstart Joshua Pacio was all smiles after fight night. He couldn’t quite believe where he was. 

“Hindi pa din ako makapaniwala na dati, nasa Upper Box lang ako noon na nanonood sa kanila, tapos ngayon lumalaban na. (I can’t believe that before, I used to sit at the Upper Box, just watching them fight, and now, I’m fighting along with them too.)” 

Joshua found his way to martial arts at the tender age of 12 years old, thanks to an uncle who introduced him to Muay Thai, but it wasn’t long before one of Team Lakay’s coaches, Rogeilo Capan, discovered the La Trinidad, Benguet native, and the rest, as they say, is history. 

Nakilala ko yung isang coach sa La Union ng Team Lakay, si Dr. Rogelio Capan, siya yung nag-introduce sa amin sa Wushu, at yun, pinasok ako sa Team Lakay. (I met one of the coaches of Team Lakay in La Union, Dr. Rogelio Capan. He introduced me to Wushu and he got me into Team Lakay.)” 

And while Wushu was the jump-off point, it was seeing his coaches compete in mixed martial arts that gave Joshua the drive to excel in the fight game. Eight years after getting into martial arts, the 20-year old Pacio is now a legitimate mixed martial arts prospect, and a budding star for the Philippines’ top MMA stable. Never did he imagine that mixed martial arts would take him all over the world.

Hindi ko inexpect ‘to, kasi akala ko noon hanggang Wushu na lang ako. Regionals, mga ganun, nationals, pero nung napanood ko yung coaches namin na lumaban ng MMA, siyempre na-motivate ako. ‘Hanggang dito na lang ba ako?’ sabi ko sarili ko. Hindi naman imposible siguro ‘to, so yun, tinuloy-tuloy kong nag-training, at hanggang nakita ako ni Coach Mark [Sangiao] na may potential ako. Kinuha niya ako tapos sabi niya ituloy-tuloy ko lang ito, (I never expected this, because I thought Wushu was it for me. Regionals, nationals, that kind of stuff, but when I was my coaches fight, of course I got motivated and asked myself if this was the farthest that I’d be getting. I knew that it wasn’t impossible, so I kept training hard, until Coach Mark [Sangiao] saw that I had potential and told me to keep training,)”

Joshua’s motivation and drive brought him to the opening fight of ONE Championship’s debut in Macau last weekend at the Cotai Arena, his first time to fight outside of the Philippines. 

Medyo na-shock, tapos na-excite na rin, kasi, ako pa yung first fight, sinasabi nila yung first fight dapat maganda para ma-excite yung crowd. (I was a little shocked and also excited because I was the first fight on the card, and they said the first fight should be good so as to excite the crowd.)” Pacio told ABS-CBN Sports. 

And excite the crowd he did. After getting into some early trouble, Pacio rallied to choke out Thailand’s Kritsada Kongsrichai, an Olympic level wrestler and devastating Muay Thai striker. Joshua managed to take Kongsrichai’s back late in the first round and finish him off with barely 30 seconds remaining in the round. 

Nung nakuha ko yung rear naked choke, narinig ko na 30 seconds na lang, ayun, kinabahan ako, baka hindi ko matapos, umabot pa ng second round. Pero nung narinig ko siyang humihinga ng malalim, talagang tinuluyan ko na. (When I locked in the rear naked choke, I heard that there were just 30 seconds left, so I got a bit nervous because I thought I wouldn’t be able to finish the fight and it would go on to the second round. But when I heard him breathing heavily, I tightened it up.)”

His win set the tone for what would be a clean sweep for Team Lakay, with teammates Honorio Banario and Eduard Folayang picking up big wins later that night. 

For the young up-and-comer, it was more than just getting his first international win, I was also about being able to represent his country and making all the hard work worth it. 

Syempre, masaya kasi successful yung unang out-of-the-country fight ko, tapos proud ako na na-represent ko yung country. (Of course I’m really happy because my first international fight was successful, and I was able to represent the country.)” said Pacio. “Worth it na worth it lahat nung hard work, yung lahat ng ginawa naming tactical gameplan, nag-work lahat. (The hard work was definitely worth it, all the tactical gameplan worked.)” 

At 8-0 in his young career and only his second fight for the ONE Championship promotion, Joshua is just getting started, and chances are, there’s no looking back for the kid. And while he’s already impressive at this point, he knows that there’s still a long way to go and he’s ready for anything. 

Kahit anong ibigay sa akin, kahit sinong kakalabanin ko, ready na ready parin ako. Siguro more experience pa, kasi bata pa naman ako, more experience pa hanggang makapunta tayo sa top. (Whatever they give me, whoever they ask me to fight, I’m always ready. I know I need more experience because I’m still young. I’ll keep gaining more experience until I reach the top.)”. 

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