The Shooto Strawweight World Champion entered The Home Of Martial Arts with impressive credentials, and his win over the powerhouse cemented his status as a top contender.
Saruta was then offered the opportunity to face ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua “The Passion” Pacio (13-2) for the belt at ONE: ETERNAL GLORY on Saturday, 19 January. Despite the quick turnaround, he had no reservations in accepting.
In a technical grappling showcase, Yosuke Saruta outduels Alex Silva to claim a unanimous decision victory!Watch the full event LIVE & FREE on the ONE Super App http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast.
Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, 7 December 2018
“I was surprised,” offers the Wajutsu Keishukai Hearts representative.
“But it will be the proof that I am the number-one mixed martial artist in the world at strawweight.”
Saruta instantly entered the division’s upper echelon when he defeated “Little Rock” at ONE: DESTINY OF CHAMPIONS, and did so while also facing the challenge of fighting outside of Japan for the very first time.
He could have been overwhelmed by his transition to the global stage, but instead, he rose to the challenge.
“It helped me to gain confidence that I can win in an unfamiliar situation,” explains the 31-year-old Tokyo native.
This time, the stakes are much higher, but he has the momentum to head into Indonesia full of confidence.
Pacio won the belt with an impressive five-round decision over Saruta’s countryman, Yoshitaka Naito, at ONE: CONQUEST OF HEROES in September, gaining redemption for a previous defeat in 2016.
“Tobizaru” has studied his opponent in detail to prepare, and alongside his team, has formulated a plan to try and wrestle the belt from his grasp.
“His strongest point is his striking, especially spinning kicks and his punching power. That is why I’m trying to strengthen my striking defense.
“His weak point is grappling. My grappling skill is much higher than his, so in the fight, I’m planning a combination of strikes and takedowns.”
The Japanese man has almost double the experience of his foe — he has 29 bouts to Pacio’s 15, and has also been in many more five-round battles.
As a result, Saruta is certain that his conditioning will be a key asset in the undoubtedly tough battle.
“My strongest points are my physical ability and stamina,” he says.
“I will keep moving through the whole fight, and when my opponent is getting tired, I will finish him.
“I think I will overwhelm him in all aspects, and then finish him in the fourth round.”
“Tobizaru” is within touching distance of the biggest victory of his career. However, it has been a long time in the making with his professional debut coming 11 years ago.
He has battled hard to build his skills and reputation in Japan, and though it came quicker than he had anticipated, he is ready to take the World Title and dominate the strawweight division.
“I thought I’d be getting the World Title match in 2019, but it came much earlier than I expected,” Saruta revealed.
“I want people to know my name as the toughest Japanese athlete, and I will be the World Champion.
“I will defeat all contenders in my weight class.”