Gallery – ONE: FIRE & FURY Open Workout

Joshua “The Passion” Pacio and Alex “Little Rock” Silva stared each other down as they faced off for the first time at the ONE: FIRE & FURY Official Open Workout in Pasay City, Philippines, on Tuesday, 28 January.

They were also joined by some of the stars that will compete in front of their compatriots this Friday, 31 January at the Mall Of Asia Arena to showcase their skills in front of fans and the world’s media.

Ahead of his attempt to defend the ONE Strawweight World Title for the second time, Pacio reflected on his successful campaign, which culminated in November when he retained the belt in Manila against Rene “The Challenger” Catalan in an all-Filipino affair.

The Team Lakay representative was also quick to show his respect to his next challenger from Brazil.

“Last year was a great year for me. Despite losing my title, I was able to gain it back and also put in some great wins against tough opponents,” Pacio said.

“I feel very comfortable fighting here at home in the Philippines. I’m unbeaten here, and it’s because of all the support from the fans. It’s a huge privilege to face such a great competitor in Alex Silva. He’s a former World Champion and has excellent BJJ, so this will be a huge challenge for me. I’m ready to face it.”

It is unlikely that many fans will cheer for “Little Rock” when he steps into the Circle on Friday, but he was also in good spirits.

The former ONE Strawweight World Champion from Evolve in Singapore still showed his gratitude to the locals, but warned them he is feeling confident.

“First of all, I would like to say I really appreciate the support and respect the fans have given me here in the Philippines, even if I am going to face your hometown hero, Joshua Pacio,” he said.

“One thing you can expect from me is that I will put my whole heart into this match and give a good performance for all the Filipinos. It has been a long two-year journey for me to get back into title contention, and I’m happy to be given another shot.

“For me, the harder the path the better because it helps me improve as a fighter. Joshua is a young and well-rounded athlete, and I have a lot of respect for him. But I believe this is my time now.”

Read more: 5 Reasons Why You Can’t Miss ONE: FIRE & FURY