Filipino star Joshua “The Passion” Pacio stands on the verge of title contendership in ONE Championship, but he knows he needs at least one more big performance before his World Title ambition can be realised.
Pacio will face off against Thai star Pongsiri Mitsatit at ONE: REIGN OF KINGS in Manila on Friday, 27 July in a battle between two of the strawweight division’s most promising young contenders.
“This bout, like any, is honestly very important to me,” Pacio says.
“He is obviously a very good striker given his Muay Thai background, but what makes him dangerous is that he is very well-rounded. His wrestling and grappling are also on a high level. We match up quite well.”
The bout was set to take place at ONE: GLOBAL SUPERHEROES in January, but an injury to Mitsatit forced its postponement. Now, with the Thai back to full fitness, the pair will meet in Manila in a highly-anticipated bout that offers a clash of styles.
Mitsatit heads into the bout with a solid foundation in Muay Thai, with a 72-17 record and a Northern Thailand Championship to his name. Since transitioning to mixed martial arts, “The Smiling Assassin” has gone undefeated and finished all bar one of his opponents.
His striking style will offer an interesting contrast to Pacio’s wushu-based style. The Filipino’s striking talent has since been supplemented with an evolving grappling game to give the 22-year-old a well-rounded skillset.
He has defeated one top Thai in former ONE Strawweight World Champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke, and now he is looking to defeat Mitsatit and position himself for a shot at the World Title.
“Every discipline has its own beauty, whether it is wushu, Muay Thai, or Brazilian jiu-jitsu. I embrace all styles. I am a student of all arts,” he says.
“The win will go to whoever can mix it up better. I am excited to test my skills against a worthy opponent in Pongsiri Mitsatit.”
Training out of Baguio City’s acclaimed Team Lakay, Pacio is in the perfect spot to further his wushu style, while the gym as a whole has adopted a more holistic approach to martial arts, adding more grappling training and coaching to their lineup.
And with a host of top-level teammates including current ONE Flyweight World Champion Geje Eustaquio and former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang, there is no shortage of inspiration around him as he prepares for his latest ONE Championship appearance.
“I am inspired and amazed with the things going on around me,” he says.
“Kuya (brother) Geje just won the Flyweight World Title, and now kuya Kevin is going to be fighting for the Bantamweight World Title. This has lit a spark inside of me, and now I am more energised in training. I want to be where they are now.”
With an ever-improving skill set, the backing he needs from a top-level team, and the determination to make it to the top, Pacio says he is ready to step back up to highest level whenever ONE Championship gives him the opportunity.
“It is up to ONE Championship when I will fight for the title again, but I will happily take my time developing my skills correctly,” he says.
“I am learning, growing, and gaining more experience with each passing bout. I can feel myself getting stronger and better. I can see the improvements in my performances. As a martial artist, this is why I work so hard.”