It's lonely at the top for ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua “The Passion” Pacio.
But it’s a seat he comfortably sits on, as the king of the strawweights awaits his next challenger in the Home of Martial Arts.
“The wait continues, but as I wait, I’m continuously improving. I’m very excited and I cannot wait to get back inside the ONE Circle to show how well I have improved,” he said.
Pacio has shown no let-ups in his training, working on his weaknesses as he proudly hoists the Philippine flag in ONE Championship.
He’s the only Filipino titleholder in the promotion and is fully intent on keeping the belt on his shoulders for his next matches.
For the meantime, Pacio is keeping close tabs to his possible next foes and scouting potential opponents as he’s fully aware of the looming threat that awaits him the next time he steps inside the Circle.
That’s why the Filipino warrior is keeping a close eye on the strawweight duel between Alex “Little Rock” Silva of Brazil and Chinese sensation Miao Li Tao at ONE: BATTLEGROUND II on August 13 in Singapore.
“The fight between Miao Li Tao and Alex Silva is surely a thrilling bout. Miao is a very aggressive and explosive athlete, but Alex on the other hand is very dangerous, especially on the ground,” he assessed.
It definitely is shaping up to be a very exciting duel between two of the promotion’s best when it comes to the grappling game, an exciting showdown which could very well determine the next in line for a shot at Pacio’s crown.
Silva’s prowess in Brazilian jiu-jitsu is well documented, one that has allowed him to reach the pinnacle of the weight division before when he won the ONE Strawweight World Championship at ONE: WARRIORS OF THE WORLD against Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito back in December 2017.
He was actually the last man Pacio fought, with the Filipino narrowly escaping with the belt in tow with a split decision victory in their championship clash at ONE: FIRE & FURY in January 2020.
“I learned a lot when I faced Alex last year,” Pacio stated. “He’s always a dangerous opponent and I think if we’d face each other again, I’d have to show more aggression, much loaded striking, and I’d throw a lot of combinations to be able to eke out a decisive win.”
Nonetheless, Silva remains a competent contender, thus his place as the fifth-ranked challenger in the ONE Athlete Rankings.
Meanwhile, Miao has been on the ascent. The Chinese sanda specialist has added Brazilian jiu-jitsu to his arsenal and what better statement for him to announce his intentions for the belt than displaying that against a talent like Silva.
Miao has won four of his last six matches, including a unanimous decision win over Ryuto “Dragon Boy” Sawada in their rematch at ONE ON TNT 3 last April. It’s a performance one that Pacio definitely noticed.
“Miao has improved a lot. His aggressiveness and explosiveness and his wrestling has improved a lot too. But I think one of his weaknesses is his over-aggressiveness,” he said.
But Pacio has also seen Miao’s weak points when the Chinese fought Jeremy “The Jaguar” Miado at ONE: AGE OF DRAGONS in November 2019. Miao found himself knocked out with a flying knee to suffer the first-round KO defeat at the hands of Pacio’s compatriot.
“We saw this when he faced Jeremy Miado. Miado timed a beautiful flying knee that caught him out,” he said.
Equally matched may the two contenders be, Pacio is giving his slight nod to Silva due to his experience.
“I predict this bout in favor of Alex. I’ll go for Alex because of his years of experience and he’s already a veteran in this field,” he said, giving his fearless forecast. “If you play long with Silva, it’s gonna be ‘Goodnight, Irene!’ as Michael Schiavello puts it.”
No matter what the fight’s outcome will be, though, Pacio believes that it’s a testament to the depth of the strawweight division in ONE Championship.
“ONE’s strawweight division just got more stacked because of the athletes’ constant improvement and them continuing to level up their games. They’re all very hungry and with that, the competition just gets tougher and tougher,” he said.
With that being said, it puts more spunk in the step of Pacio to also raise his game to remain as the unquestionable champion among ONE’s strawweights.
“This is the reason why we are more motivated to train and get better every day. And if you try to see the other side of this, you’ll realize that this is not just a competition anymore but martial artists helping each other to level up and be the best version of themselves. So it only provides a great show every time we step inside the ONE Circle.”