SINGAPORE – Filipino prospect Joshua Pacio expects that he'll need to push himself to the limit to walk out with the ONE Championship strawweight title around his waist as he challenges Japanese champion Yoshitaka Naito.
Pacio and Naito are set to collide in the main event of ONE Championship’s “State of Warriors” card, which takes place at the Thuwanna Indoor Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar on Friday, October 7.
The 20-year-old Baguio City native is coming into the scheduled 5-round strawweight contest as the heavy underdog due to his opponent’s deeper mixed martial arts (MMA) résumé.
Naito is unbeaten in 11 professional outings and was a staple of Japanese MMA promotion Shooto, where he had 10 bouts in his 3-year run.
In addition, the 32-year-old Japanese once held the Shooto flyweight championship and successfully defended it twice.
Having a lengthy fight is not new to Naito as he owns 5 decision victories and has already fought in two 5-round matches.
Meanwhile, Pacio has not won a single bout by way of decision in his 3-year pro MMA stint, finishing his last 8 opponents by either knockout or submission.
Despite the seemingly insurmountable odds, Pacio downplayed Naito’s vast experience and believes he has the chance to pull off an improbable upset.
“Yes, he is an experienced fighter. But it doesn’t mean that he is unbeatable. Every fight is a test when you’re a fighter. It makes you grow as an athlete. This fight is my test, and I know I can pass this test with flying colors,” he told Rappler.
Although Pacio has yet to go the distance in his budding career, he has no qualms going to full 5 rounds with Naito.
“It’s MMA. You will never know if the fight will end by knockout, submission or decision. A fighter should always be prepared wherever the fight goes and accept the result of the fight,” he stressed.
According to Pacio, he went through a strenuous strength and conditioning program to sustain his endurance in the championship rounds.
“For this fight, we turned up a notch in conditioning. We did a lot intense exercises to improve my cardio and stamina. In case the fight goes to the fifth round, I am ready,” he shared.
With both men having an immaculate prizefighting record, Pacio is not petrified of losing the “0” in his win-loss slate as he believes that it does not define the true potential of a highly-decorated fighter.
“There are many great fighters who have losses in their careers. But it didn’t hinder them to reach the pinnacle of success. Win or lose, I will show a stellar performance and an exciting fight. I have nothing to lose, but I have everything to gain,” Pacio said. – Rappler.com