Former two-time ONE Strawweight MMA World Champion Joshua “The Passion” Pacio knows that he’s not exactly getting a warm-up fight when he returns to ONE Championship for the first time since losing his belt.
Pacio will be tested when he takes on #5-ranked contender Mansur Malachiev at ONE Fight Night 15 on October 7 inside Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.
Malachiev made a name for himself when he ragdolled Jeremy Miado in his promotional debut, getting an impressive D’arce choke submission in just a single round.
The Lions Nation MMA ace certainly took notice of that fight, and he knows that he’s up for a tough scrap.
“I don’t look at any fight as an easy fight, and certainly not this one, not against Mansur Malachiev, an undefeated fighter who’s now in the top five,” he said.
“I always treat every fight as if this is the last fight of my career. I make sure that in every fight, I go out there 100 percent – physically, spiritually, and emotionally ready. I hope the winner here gets a title shot next.”
That said, he’s confident that he’s faced stiffer competition.
Pacio gave Malachiev his props after showing great tenacity in pursuing a takedown against Miado, but he himself is coming off a war against a bonafide wrestling machine in Jarred Brooks.
While Pacio ultimately lost via decision and got taken down a couple of times, “The Passion” showed that he’s no pushover in the wrestling department.
With renewed confidence thanks to a new jiu-jitsu coach, plus a brief training stint in the U.S., Pacio is bound to show improvements.
“Mansur is certainly a different breed of wrestler and grappler compared to others in the division, but I believe I’ve already fought the best wrestler in my division, and that’s Jarred Brooks,” he said.
“I’m not taking Mansur lightly. He’s undefeated for a reason. But I’m working hard on my wrestling and grappling, and thank God that our BJJ coach in Gibran [Langbayan] is here to guide us further in the grappling department.”
If Pacio has any chance to prove that he still wants a shot at his former belt, it’s this fight here. And he plans to show it.
“Of course I want to show that I’m still hungry to become a World Champion once more. I want to show that I’m the top-ranked fighter for a reason, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to prove that against Mansur Malachiev,” he said.
“Expect a more confident Joshua Pacio coming into this fight. A more motivated Joshua Pacio.”