Filipino sensation Joshua “The Passion” Pacio was scheduled to defend his ONE Strawweight World Title against Hayato Suzuki of Japan in the headlining bout of ONE: ETERNAL GLORY on 19 January.
However, Suzuki got injured and was forced to withdraw from the contest earlier this week. That left Pacio without an opponent. Nonetheless, he was advised to continue with his training.
“I was told that Suzuki was injured. I was surprised, but was so glad that he was okay,” the 22-year-old Baguio City native revealed. “Then, I tried to keep concentrating on my training because I believe that ONE was looking for another opponent.”
Just a few days ago, a suitable replacement was found. Despite failing to get his chance to settle an old score with Suzuki, Pacio is still getting his opportunity to show his talent against another grappling wizard.
At ONE: ETERNAL GLORY, Pacio will clash with Japan’s Yosuke Saruta.
For Pacio, the situation could not have worked out any better.
“I was glad that Yosuke answered ‘yes’ to the title match on the Jakarta card with me,” he said. “I always look for a moment to test my skills, especially on the ground. This is the perfect moment.”
Saruta made himself a strong candidate to duke it out with Pacio after defeating former ONE Strawweight World Champion Alex “Little Rock” Silva in his promotional at ONE: DESTINY OF CHAMPIONS last 7 December.
Pacio kept a close eye on Saruta’s recent outing very carefully and acknowledged the Japanese’s talent as a martial artist.
Despite the tough test that awaits, the ONE Strawweight World Champion believes that he has what it takes to neutralize his Japanese challenger.
“Yosuke has really good grappling, and he is strong and physical. I am better with my striking and improved more in my ground game skills,” Pacio disclosed.
“He competed against a former world champion recently, was controlling his opponent well, and was really aggressive. He looked like he won without taking much damage.”
While Pacio had hoped to face Suzuki to avenge his loss at ONE: ETERNAL GLORY, those plans have to wait again.
Truth be told, this may be a blessing in disguise. “The Passion” now has the chance to prove his skills with Saruta, and then get another dose of redemption soon thereafter when Suzuki is fully healthy.
As a determined Pacio declared: “Regardless of my opponent, I will do my best to defend my title successfully.”