Joshua “The Passion” Pacio is one of the most talented young stars in ONE Championship.
The Team Lakay star joined the world’s largest martial arts organization in April 2016, and immediately shot up the ranks due to his explosive performances.
He was so impressive, he earned a title shot against reigning ONE Strawweight World Champion Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito just six months after his first promotional appearance.
Although he fell short of victory, Pacio has gotten better and better in the two years since. He is riding a three-bout win streak, and has delivered a highlight-reel finish in each of those performances.
Now, the 22-year-old Filipino has been granted a rematch with the division’s king. He will challenge Naito for the gold once again in the main event of ONE: CONQUEST OF HEROES, which takes place at the Jakarta Convention Center in Indonesia on Saturday, 22 September.
Before he takes to the cage, “The Passion” shares three of his favorite things about being part of the world’s largest martial arts organization.
#1 Feeling Cared For By ONE Brass
As a part of the Home of Martial Arts, Pacio spends time with people who have seen immense success.
“The Passion” loves that his efforts are valued by them, and that can be himself around ONE’s leading men.
“I love how ONE Championship is like a huge family, just like with Team Lakay. I am very lucky to be in an organization that gives me a voice, and values my opinion,” Pacio says.
“Rubbing elbows with the big bosses – Mr. Chatri Sityodtong (ONE Chairman and CEO), and Mr. Victor Cui (CEO of International) – is a great honor and privilege. You cannot say the same for other promotions. Here, I feel like they genuinely care about my career and development.”
Pacio also feels the company’s values and principles make the promotion stand apart.
“I am proud to be in an organization that values more than just the competition,” he continues.
“ONE Championship promotes the true essence of martial arts. Martial arts changed my life, and as a lifelong martial artist, it is important that I stick with an organization that helps me to reach my full potential.”
#2 Learning From Team Lakay’s Warriors
When Pacio first started his mixed martial arts career, he was much like any other kid his age – a bit mischievous, and in need of guidance and direction.
Once he joined Team Lakay, everything changed. Head coach Mark Sangiao took him under his wing and exposed him to what it would take to become a decorated athlete.
“I am very fortunate to have some of the best martial artists in the world to learn from at Team Lakay,” Pacio explains.
“By training and drilling with them, my development as a fighter has been quick, and efficient. I have learned so many things from those who have more experience than me.”
Pacio’s seniors include ONE Flyweight World Champion Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio, ONE Interim Bantamweight World Champion Kevin Belingon, and former World Champions Eduard “Landslide” Folayang, and Honorio “The Rock” Banario.
Absorbing their knowledge at the gym in Baguio City, Philippines has been invaluable.
“Some of my favorite moments include just rolling with these guys in the gym. I have learned so much in so little time, and that is why I am always training,” he says.
“I am young, and I am hungry. I want to be the best that I can be, and to do that, I have to take in as much knowledge as I can. Luckily, I am with the best team in the world at Team Lakay.”
#3 Competing For The World Title
In October 2016, just two bouts into his tenure with the promotion, Pacio had the opportunity to challenge Naito for the ONE Strawweight World Championship in the main event of ONE: STATE OF WARRIORS.
This was a remarkable accomplishment for the Filipino, who was only 20 years old at the time.
Although he felt like the odds were against him, he boldly accepted the challenge.
“I came in as the underdog, and I think everyone was expecting me to get finished pretty early,” he says.
That did not happen. Pacio dominated the titleholder in the opening two stanzas, as he shut down his Japanese adversary with pinpoint strikes and impeccable takedown defense.
Naito’s game plan was built around taking “The Passion” to the ground, so when that did not happen, the Filipino truly shone.
In the third round, however, “Nobita” finally got the match to the mat. He dragged Pacio to the canvas and ended the bout with a rear-naked choke.
It was clear the Team Lakay youngster needed to work more on his ground game, and he has dedicated himself to that task ever since.
“That loss meant more to me, and my career, than any of my wins. I learned so much about myself, and what I needed to improve on. It lit a fire underneath me,” he says.
“I think I was able to surprise a lot of people with my performance. I vow to come back stronger, and when I face the champion again, it is going to be a different story.”
Pacio will get that chance on 22 September, and will attempt to author a different story by leaving the Jakarta Convention Center with the belt.
Jakarta | 22 September | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast