More confident Joshua Pacio faces Naito in ONE title rematch
JAKARTA—In the two years since he last faced Yoshitaka Naito, Joshua Pacio has established himself as one of the top fighters in the strawweight division.
But more than the additional experience, it’s a whole new level of confidence that the Team Lakay fighter is going to be bringing to their rematch on Saturday in the main event of the ONE: Conquest of Heroes here.
“The biggest thing that I’m going to be bringing with me this time is my confidence,” said Pacio in Filipino on Thursday during the open workout at Jakarta Muay Thai.
Team Lakay’s Joshua Pacio and Yoshitaka Naito face off at ONE: Conquest of Heroes open workout today pic.twitter.com/eqwyKlxnIo
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A mistake that proved to be costly allowed the erstwhile undefeated Naito pin Pacio down and finish him with a rear naked choke in the third round of their title bout in Myanmar.
That is something Pacio is going to be on a lookout for on Saturday.
“Coach Mark [Sangiao] has repeatedly reminded me ‘Never give your back.’ Once they get your back, it’s going to be hard to escape,” said the 22-year-old Benguet native.
Team Lakay also formulated a different game plan against the Japanese foe this time, with Pacio looking to be the aggressor in his bid to snag another belt for the Filipinos in the promotion.
Team Lakay’s Joshua Pacio is looking snag the ONE Strawweight title from Naito. pic.twitter.com/Rwvnu3H7Aq
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“During our last match, what I practiced mostly on was takedown defense, running—hit and run. But now, we focused on wrestling offense. If there’s a chance I can take him down, I’ll do that. If there’s a chance we can be aggressive in our ground game, we’ll also do that.”
Pacio, though, recognized that Naito has also improved on his weaker points, mainly his striking, in the last two years where the 34-year-old Japanese fighter fought fellow champion Alex Silva twice.
“His weakness is striking but I can see that he has improved. I’m not going to relax because of that, but we have a game plan to target three points and that’s what I’m going to execute.”
The Pacio-Naito rematch headlines an action-packed fight card which also features two other Filipino fighters in Danny Kingad and Jomary Torres.
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