Before the Team Lakay star became the first man to defend the belt twice with his win against Alex “Little Rock” Silva on Friday, 31 January, he endured a rough training camp that tested him both physically and mentally.
Plus, he had the formidable challenge of taking on a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt who had earned all but one of his wins via submission.
Silva is undoubtedly the most dangerous grappler Pacio has faced, and he acknowledges how challenging it was to say safe when the contest went onto the mat. However, he also explains that he was well-prepared to handle whatever came his way at the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.
“Man, that was wild. I was so nervous during the transitions, but everything that happened there – every scenario – we worked on it during training, so I didn’t panic, I didn’t hesitate on what I’d do, I trusted my training, and I trusted my coach and my team,” he says.
“I think he was waiting for me to make a mistake. That’s how good black belts are, I am sure if I make one mistake they’ll capitalize on it. That’s why I was so wary during scrambles, I was making sure I didn’t get reckless when I transitioned or when I tried to escape. On the feet, I was really confident if it stayed up there.”
Pacio was in serious danger when he was caught in an arm-triangle choke at the end of round two, but he survived to put his stamp on the bout in the striking exchanges.
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Hard punching combinations and a good compliment of knees and kicks wore Silva down over five rounds, but he remained dangerous until the final bell.
After 25 grueling minutes, the 24-year-old from Baguio City was declared the winner by split decision and he showed a range of emotions.
One of those was certainly relief thanks to the trials he had gone through in the second of back-to-back training camps following his victory against Rene “The Challenger” Catalan at ONE: MASTERS OF FATE.
Pacio said he was not impressed with his performance, but it is easy to understand why he may not have been at the top of his game.
“This fight was hard. I thought it was impossible to just be in the moment because the past three weeks have been tumultuous,” he admits.
“I had a fever, I had LBM (diarrhea), and it certainly affected my conditioning in a big way, but at the end of the day, it’s all in the mind. It’s my mindset that pushed me alongside my faith in God.
“I also want to thank my teammates for always pushing me. It’s tiring. I was competing just last November as well, but I look at it as a blessing.”
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The last words you said to me last Novber 24,2019 “Agpicture ta mt ah ta ada panglaglagipam knyak nu awanak en”(Lets take a picture together so that you will remember me when I’m gone). Thank you very much for all the lessons, your life has been a testimony of mine???? Till we meet again Lolo Pastor Valentino Orque Pacio????
The ONE Strawweight World Champion also had to cope with the death of his grandfather earlier in the month, and he dedicated the victory to him.
“What happened with my grandfather was for the better because he was suffering a lot,” he adds.
“He was in a coma and he was diabetic. It’s better for him to rest now and be with God, and this match, this win, was certainly for him.”
Now that Pacio has made it past all those bumps in the road, he is looking forward to taking a well-earned rest and then making the improvements that will allow him to get back to his best.
Though he warns fans not to expect him to be back in the Circle in short order, he has no qualms about who he faces when he does return to action.
“It certainly won’t happen in the next two months, but as an athlete, this is what we do, this is our job, so it’s not really up to me on who I’ll fight next,” he says.
“Whoever ONE deems as worthy, I’ll take them on, prepare hard for them, and hopefully get another win. I am focused now on being better, on how my skills would level up. Whoever is next, whether it’s a new opponent or a rematch with my previous opponents, it’s going to be a different Joshua Pacio.”
Read more: 5 Lessons We Learned At ONE: FIRE & FURY