Team Lakay and Baguio City's Joshua Pacio during the open workouts at the Jakarta Muay Thai & MMA gym in Jakarta, Indonesia. Photo/Denison Rey A. Dalupang
Pacio vows improved wrestling defense
Denison Rey A. Dalupang ( - September 20, 2018 - 7:00pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Joshua Pacio has learned his lesson well.

Two years removed from his narrow loss to Yoshitaka Naito for the ONE strawweight belt, the Team Lakay youngster said he has taken to heart one realization from their last encounter in Myanmar.

“Sabi ni coach Mark (Sangiao), tatakbo lang sa isip ko facing a jiu-jitsu man never give your back. Pag nakuha yung likod mahirap na tumakas dun,” he told the press during ONE Championship’s open workout of the protagonists of “Conquest of Heroes,” Thursday at the Jakarta Muay Thai & MMA gym here.

Pacio, then a doe-eyed 19-year-old ward from the famed Baguio fight stable, looked in control for nearly three rounds of his title fight with the Japanese veteran. The Filipino hit his assignment hard, made him run, and made him catch for his breath in many sequences. But in one swift motion, the latter turned the tide by pulling off a rear-naked choke near the cage to keep his belt around his waist.

“Ang madadala ko na lang sa rematch namin is ‘yung confidence ko,” Pacio, now 22, said. Since that fight, he has snared four in his last five outings to earn another crack at the division belt.

“Last fight namin, nag-focus ako sa takedown defense at takbo, hit-and-run, pero ngayon, nag-focus kami sa wrestling offense. Kung may pagkakataon na i-take down natin siya, kukunin natin. Kung may pagkakataon na maging aggressive tayo sa ground, kukunin din natin,” the young fighter added.

And as far as confidence goes, Pacio emphasized that he’s oozing with it.

“Sa tingin ko handang handa na kasi nakalaban ko naman siya. Malaki ‘yung experience na binigay niya sa akin. Maraming lessons na napagaralan ko sa kanya. Nakalaban ko din yung mabibigat na kalaban sa division ko, sila Dejdamrong (Sor Amnuaysirichoke), si Hayato Suzuki. Malaking experiene ‘yun para sa akin,” he pointed out.

Yoshitaka Naito (left) faces off with Joshua Pacio ahead of their title fight on Saturday. | Dalupang

“‘Yung reminder lang is confidence lang. Alam nila na ‘yung Team Lakay. pagdating sa take down, dedepensa lang yan. Pero ngayon, kung may pagkakataon na ako naman ang magtetake down, gagawin ko,” he declared.

Pacio will try to prove that he is as good as his words when he and Naito enter the cage anew this Saturday night at the Jakarta Convention Center.

A title for Pacio could give the Philippines another ONE Championship titlist and Team Lakay its third division ruler following Geje Eustaquio and Kevin Belingon respective wins months earlier.

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