ONE Championship: Confidence is key for Joshua Pacio in world title rematch
Santino Honasan on Sep 21, 2018 10:34 AM
"Madadala ko na lang sa rematch namin is yung confidence ko."
Team Lakay strawweight star Joshua "The Passion" Pacio will be getting another opportunity at ONE Championship gold when he challenges reigning champion Yoshitaka "Nobita" Naito for the ONE Strawweight World Championship in the main event of ONE: Conquest of Heroes in Jakarta.
It's been nearly two years since their first world championship encounter back in 2016, and while both men have shown improvements since then, the Filipino challenger believes that the the biggest thing going for him in this fight is his belief in himself.
"Madadala ko na lang sa rematch namin is yung confidence ko." Pacio told the media during Thursday's open workouts.
The 22-year old Benguet native has every reason to be confident heading into his rematch with Naito. Pacio is riding a three-fight winning streak with all three wins coming via stoppage and has won four of his last five bouts.
This time around, Pacio shares that they've focused on trying to beat Naito at his own game: grappling.
"Last fight namin, nag-focus ako sa takedown defense at takbo, hit-and-run, pero ngayon, nag-focus kami sa wrestling offense."
"Kung may pagkakataon na i-take down natin siya, kukunin natin. Kung may pagkakataon na maging aggressive tayo sa ground, kukunin din natin."
Looking back at their 2016 meeting, Pacio had held his own against Naito in the first two rounds. Some would even go as far as to say that the Pinoy had won the first ten minutes of the match.
In the third round however, Naito's experience and elite-level grappling proved to be the difference, as the Japanese champion capitalized on one single error that proved to be fatal for Pacio.
Naito immediately took Pacio's back and secured a Rear Naked Choke submission to force the tap.
It serves as a daily reminder for Pacio, especially heading into the rematch.
"Sabi ni Coach Mark [Sangiao], tatakbo lang sa isip ko, facing a jiu-jitsu man, never give your back. Pag nakuha yung likod mahirap na tumakas dun." explained Pacio.
While confidence is definitely key, Pacio understands that in a technical sense, it's his striking that will be the biggest advantage over the champion.
If he were able to lure Naito into a striking match, it would definitely be favorable for the former Wushu standout, but of course, Pacio isn't about to underestimate the champ's striking either.
"Weakness is yung striking niya pero nakikita ko nagiimprove yung striking niya." said Pacio. "Hindi tayo pwedeng maging kampante doon. Sa tingin ko, doon ko siya kukunin, ita-target ko yung target namin na gameplan, may three-points kami na gameplan."
After two years of working his way back up to the world title picture once more, Pacio believes that he's truly ready make another run at the gold.
"Sa tingin ko handang-handa na kasi nakalaban ko naman siya. Malaki yung experience na binigay niya sa akin." he said. "Maraming lessons na napag-aralan ko sa kanya. Nakalaban ko din yung mabibigat na kalaban sa division ko, sila Dejdamrong [Sor Amnuaysirichoke], si Hayato Suzuki. Malaking experiene yun para sa akin."
On Saturday, September 22nd at the Jakarta Convention Center, Pacio tries to become the third current ONE world champion from Team Lakay.
Joshua Pacio challenges Yoshitaka Naito for the ONE Flyweight World Championship at ONE: Conquest of Heroes on Saturday, September 22nd. Catch it LIVE starting at 10:30 PM on ABS-CBN S+A channel 23!