Both athletes will bring diverse skill sets to the main event tilt in Manila, Philippines, this Friday, 8 November, which makes it difficult to determine who has the edge.
Pacio is just starting his second reign with the belt, and has the advantage of youth – he is 17 years younger than his rival – but Catalan will bring all the tricks he has picked up in more than two decades as a martial artist, during which he has already won two World Titles in wushu.
Both will be well prepared and dangerous when they meet at the Mall Of Asia Arena, and these are some of the key techniques and strategies they could use to leave the Mall Of Asia Arena with their hand raised.
#1 Pacio’s One-Shot KO Power
“The Passion’s” ability to end a contest in an instant in the stand-up exchanges is one of his greatest assets.
The Team Lakay man is an experienced wushu practitioner, but he also draws from his early training in Muay Thai and kickboxing to give him a fearsome striking arsenal.
Before he entered The Home Of Martial Arts, he used his boxing to KO opponents, but once he reached the global stage, he has struck with some flashy techniques that have ended contests in one fell swoop.
Both his spinning backfist of Roy Doliguez and his World Title-winning head kick of Yosuke Saruta came completely out of the blue, so Catalan should proceed with caution to avoid walking onto a power shot and paying a hefty price.
#2 Catalan’s Chopping Low Kick
One way to temper a big hitter is to break them down from their foundations, and “The Challenger’s” low kicks could be his best weapon in that regard.
The Catalan Fighting System man is stocky, with thick, powerful legs, and he uses them to chop away at the thighs of his opponents from both orthodox and southpaw stances. Repeated blows to an opponent’s leg will take away their explosiveness, so it is the perfect antidote to an unpredictable striker like Pacio.
This approach was a key factor in “The Challenger’s” destruction of Stefer Rahardian, and the Manila native could utilize the same game plan to slow and stifle the reigning World Champion’s offense.
#3 Pacio’s Perfectly-Timed Takedowns
The battle for top position could be crucial in this contest if either man switches away from their striking, and Pacio’s excellent timing on his takedowns could help him take a dominant spot on the ground.
The Baguio City man rarely shoots in from a distance. Instead, he waits for his adversary to move forward with kicks, and then counters by up-ending them onto the canvas. The likes of Kritsada Kongsrichai, Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke, and Pongsiri Mitsatit all found that out to their detriment.
This drastically reduces the chances of him being sprawled on, and means “The Passion” can take a less risky route to the ground, where his stunning submissions can come into play.
#4 “The Challenger’s” Ground Offensive
If Catalan can take the initiative and put Pacio on his back – or even make him pay for an imperfect takedown – then he could quickly snatch the chance to defeat the 23-year-old superstar with his relentless ground and pound.
“The Challenger” is never happy to simply win a positional battle. If he is on top, he will strike, and strike hard, and he does not even need much space to land his punches with force.
Peng Xue Wen was the first man to fall to his relentless barrage of offense on the mat, and former ONE Strawweight World Champion Yoshitaka Naito suffered a similar fate when his takedowns were stuffed. The Japanese star paid by eating endless punches and hammerfists that took him out in round one, and paved the way for Catalan’s shot at the gold.