ONE Championship: Joshua Pacio seeks to solve Hayato Suzuki problem on second try in Jakarta
ABS-CBN Sports on Dec 17, 2018 11:30 AM
“I know that I am ready. I’ve waited for this moment to come. It’s time to settle the score.” - Joshua Pacio (Photo courtesy of ONE Championship)
Reigning ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua "The Passion" Pacio expects another difficult test as he shares the cage with Japanese rival Hayato Suzuki once again.
Both men are slated to collide for the ONE Strawweight World Title in the main event of ONE: ETERNAL GLORY, which takes place at the Istora Senayan in Jakarta, Indonesia on 19 January.
Pacio initially crossed paths with Suzuki at ONE: KINGS & CONQUERORS in August 2017, succumbing to the crafty grappling wizard from Saitama, Japan by way of first-round submission.
Ever since yielding to Suzuki, the 22-year-old Baguio City native has redeemed himself by winning four consecutive matches, including a unanimous decision victory over Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito in a rematch at ONE: CONQUEST OF HEROES last September to capture the gold-plated strap.
Even though he is coming off the biggest win of his professional career, Pacio knows that his first defense of the ONE Strawweight World Title will be no walk in the park.
"Suzuki is more explosive than Naito, and he has more power. I have to work double on my strength and conditioning to enhance my endurance. He's an aggressive martial artist who never stops until he gets your back," he said.
"I should never give my back and work on my takedown defense. I have to set up my strikes more properly, so I can prevent him from taking me to the ground.”
After reviewing the tape of his first encounter with Suzuki, Pacio believes that a calculated and patient approach in breaking down the Japanese stalwart will be one of his keys to victory
"I got careless in our first bout. I have to be more patient in the rematch, pick my shots more carefully, and not throw strikes just for the sake of throwing. I have to wait for a proper opening," he stated.
"I can be aggressive on the ground as well if I have too. I think Suzuki could very well be my most difficult opponent in this division. He's an aggressive grappler with an overwhelming agility."
Suzuki has won four of his five outings under the ONE Championship banner, and his lone defeat came at the hands of former division kingpin Alex “Little Rock” Silva via first-round submission at ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD in November 2017.
Seeing the footage Suzuki's cage meeting with Silva, Pacio hopes to replicate the latter’s strategy in order to walk out of the Istora Senayan with an intricately-crafted belt around his waist.
"Alex Silva used his own aggressiveness against him. Like Silva, I can use his strengths against him as well," he stressed.
"I've learned a lot from watching his bout against the former champion. If the contest goes to the ground, I will not panic. I trust in our drills and training. I think I can match him on the ground."
With a month left before their highly-anticipated rematch, Pacio feels that he has finally discovered the formula in solving the dreaded submission wheelhouse of Suzuki.
"I think his game plan and technique are one-dimensional. He does the same things repetitively,” he explained. “He always looks to take the back and go for a rear-naked choke."
“I know that I am ready. I’ve waited for this moment to come. It’s time to settle the score.”