With two separate reigns and three title defenses to his name, reigning ONE strawweight world champion Joshua Pacio has cemented himself as the top mixed martial artist from the Philippines.
But he knows that has to be better than ever to overcome his next challenge.
Holding a 20-3 win-loss card, Pacio braces for the toughest match of his career when he takes an red-hot Jarred Brooks in the main event of ONE 164 on 3 December at the Mall of Asia Arena.
It was a match that was supposed to happen as early as June this year but had to be postponed owing to a schedule conflict.
That delay might actually work to Pacio’s favor as it gives him more time to strengthen his takedown defense as he faces the American wrestling machine.
“The delay was a blessing in disguise because it gave me time to prepare more. Now with three weeks to go, I feel like I’m nearing 100 percent,” Pacio said.
“I’m ready, everything’s ready. The goal has always been to be a complete mixed martial artist and I’m ready wherever this match goes — be it in striking or wrestling.”
Pacio has been the undisputed top fighter in the Philippines as he’s already put Yosuke Saruta, Alex Silva, Yoshitaka Naito and Rene Catalan in his growing list of victims in the ONE circle as champion.
While the 26-year-old Filipino has been setting records in the ONE strawweight division, a lot of people still expect him to come in as an underdog against the surging American.
Brooks, who holds a 19-2 win-loss record, has hardly been challenged since making his ONE debut last year, with wins over some of the biggest names in the promotion in Lito Adiwang, Hiroba Minowa and Bokang Masunyane — making him the undisputed challenger to Pacio.
While Pacio understands that he will struggle against the former National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I wrestler’s grappling, he also has the tools to give Brooks fits in this clash.
“Of course, his wrestling will give me problems but I’ve trained for it. We’re ready for it. But expect me to be a problem for him as well. This is a fight that will all boil down to who wants it more. I’m the champion here and I’ll prove that to him,” he said.
“I have tools that I haven’t shown yet. In my last outing, I wanted to show a lot of things but the match ended quickly.”
“I know this is going to be a tough fight and I’ll be able to show the new things that I’ve learned through the years.”
While he is wary of the things that the brash American will bring to the table, he won’t be second guessing himself in this contest.
There are no grand proclamations for a highlight reel knockout or a slick submission, but Pacio’s confident that he will be walking out of the arena with the belt still wrapped around his waist.
“I’m not looking for a finish. I’m not looking for a knockout or submission. I’m looking to showcase my well-improved aspects of the game,” he said.
“At the end of the day, my hands will be raised.”