ONE Championship strawweight king Joshua Pacio hopes to find the right balance between his mixed martial arts career and academics this 2021.
Pacio, who took Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Cordilleras in Baguio City, took a hiatus on his studies since capturing the strawweight belt for the first time in September 2018 against Yoshitaka Naito.
Another Japanese in Yosuke Saruta, however, dethroned the Team Lakay stalwart in January 2019.
Three months later in April, the 25-year-old Pacio reclaimed the championship and since then rode on a three-match win streak after defending the title twice against compatriot Rene Catalan and Alex Silva of Brazil.
“Kaunting subjects na lang, ‘di pa ako nag-graduate,” said Pacio in a recent interview with the Manila Bulletin. “Simula noong nakuha ko ‘yung belt, concentrated ako sa career, sa MMA. At the same time, gusto ko rin talaga tapusin ‘yung pag-aaral ko. So ayun ang isa sa mga goals ko sa 2021.”
Should ONE Championship find the perfect matchup for the third title defense, Pacio, who has a 17-3 record, won’t hesitate to accept the challenge as he prepares for the much-awaited comeback since January last year.
A Saruta trilogy is one of the biggest possible bouts for Pacio while South African rising star Bokang Masunyane also expressed desire to take on the reigning strawweight champion.
“Kung may laban man ako ngayon, then tatapusin ko ‘yung fight, then pagkatapos nung fight, I think tatapusin ko na rin ‘yung pag-aaral ko,” added Pacio, who is currently in third year at UC, which offers a tri-semester program.