Dethroning Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito, 34, of Matsudo, Chiba, Japan was not an easy task for Joshua “The Passion” Pacio, 22, of Baguio City, Philippines. The latter became the new ONE Strawweight World Champion after beating the former via unanimous decision at “ONE: Conquest of Heroes” at the Jakarta Convention Center in Jakarta, Indonesia on September 22, 2018.
Pacio used his superior striking and much improved grappling defense to outpoint Naito. It was the perfect sequel to their 2016 encounter as the two brought out the best in each other for an action-packed five-round affair.
“Yoshitaka Naito is very patient inside the cage,” Pacio shared. “Plus, he can absorb some hard shots without slowing down. He’s really hard to go against because he keeps moving forward, no matter what you throw at him.”
Naito’s toughness was not something new for Pacio. The Team Lakay fighter said, “I expected for him to be able to take my hardest shots.”
“I hurt him with a kick to the body in the first round and while it did have him on the defensive for a bit, he’s really strong and he kept pushing for the takedowns,” the Baguio native said of his Japanese rival. “I knew he could take those hard shots.”
Winning at “ONE: Conquest of Heroes” improved Pacio’s record to 13 wins and 2 losses. On the other hand, Naito’s record downgraded to 13 wins and 2 losses.
“If you look back at his match with Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke, he absorbed a lot of kicks and punches but he kept powering forward,” Pacio said of Naito. “So I expected that he’d be able to do the same against me.”
Both Pacio and Naito defeated former ONE Strawweight World Champion Dejdamrong “Kru Rong” Sor Amnuaysirichoke, 39, of Trang, Thailand in the ONE Championship cage. The Thai contender lost to the Japanese MMA veteran in 2016 and to the Filipino MMA star in 2017.
Including Pacio, Team Lakay now has three reigning world champions in ONE Championship. The other two are ONE Flyweight World Champion Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio, 29, of Baguio City and ONE Interim Bantamweight World Champion Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon, 30, of Kiangan, Ifugao, Philippines.
“I’m so happy I can’t explain what I’m feeling right now,” Pacio shared. “I did not know whether I was going cry or laugh when they announced the decision after the bout. It was an unexplainable feeling.”
Watch the highlights of “ONE: Conquest of Heroes” here: