Joshua Pacio unfazed despite being the lone Filipino MMA champion

Published June 10, 2021, 9:52 PM

by Carlo Anolin

Joshua Pacio of Team Lakay remains unfazed despite being the last man standing as the lone Filipino mixed martial arts champion.

Joshua Pacio (ONE Championship)

Pacio, who is the reigning strawweight king in ONE Championship, said he isn’t feeling any pressure thanks to his confidante which is Team Lakay as well as his mindset.

“A lot of people are saying that I’m the only champion left for the Philippines. But for me, I don’t feel any pressure because that’s not what’s in my head right now,” said the 25-year-old Pacio, who holds a 19-3 record.

“Instead, I’m more focused on improving my skills and I’m more focused on what to bring next inside the ONE Circle.”

Brandon Vera, the former ONE heavyweight champion, got stripped of his belt after yielding to Indian foe Arjan Bhullar last month.

This led to the situation Pacio is in now, representing the Philippines as the remaining MMA champion

Eduard Folayang, Team Lakay’s veteran, was also unfortunate in his most recent fights, dropping five of his six bouts since March 2019.

READ: Folayang: You will see me rise again, Jhanlo Sangiao wants to be a future MMA legend

On the other hand, Jenelyn Olsim and and Edward Kelly gave a glimmer of hope for the famed Benguet stable for taking home respective wins the past few months.

Olsim, 23, and 18-year-old Jhanlo Sangiao, coach Mark’s son, are part of Team Lakay’s next generation and Pacio is firm that his teammates would soon make their comeback in time.

READ: Two more wins for Olsim and she’ll get title shot, says Pacio

“I think being the lone Filipino champion in ONE won’t take very long because I’m confident that my teammates will be champions soon. I still train under coach Mark Sangiao and I think that will preserve our spot at the top, plus we are all training with hungry young lions,” said Pacio, who has been inactive since defending his title for the second time against Brazilian opponent and former world champion Alex Silva in January last year.

Pacio, now a two-time strawweight champion, first took the belt when he upset Yoshitaka Naito in September 2018 but lost it months later against another Japanese foe Yosuke Saruta in January 2019.

The Igorot warrior came back with a knockout win over Saruta in April 2019 to reclaim the strawweight title.

READ: ‘Warrior spirit’ source of strength for Igorot athletes, Pacio renews desire for Saruta trilogy