Joshua “The Passion” Pacio, 24, of Baguio City, Philippines has been reigning as ONE Championship‘s strawweight mixed martial arts champion since April 12, 2019. He is currently the Singapore-based martial arts promotion’s only champion from the Philippines.
Including Pacio, there are 13 MMA fighters who are signed with ONE Championship and are training at Team Lakay in La Trinidad, Benguet, Philippines. Three of them have yet to make their respective promotional debuts.
From BRAVE Combat Federation, Team Lakay’s Stephen “The Sniper” Loman, 25, and Jeremy “The Juggernaut” Pacatiw, 25, have moved to ONE Championship. Team Lakay founder Mark Sangiao‘s son Jhanlo Mark Sangiao, 28, has signed his ONE Championship contract, as well.
“I’m super motivated to get back and defend our title, especially that my other teammates have joined ONE Championship already,” Pacio said. “I’m very happy for them and for us and you will see the next generation of Team Lakay athletes come in full force.”
The last time Pacio competed was on January 31, 2020 when he successfully defended his title as the ONE Strawweight World Champion from Alex “Little Rock” Silva, 38, of Ubatuba, Sao Paulo, Brazil. The latter held the same title from December 9, 2017 to May 12, 2018.
This is the longest hiatus Pacio had since he joined ONE Championship in 2016. He said, “I’m more than thrilled to get back inside the circle as it’s more than a year since my last bout.”
Amid the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Pacio remained active in his training with his Team Lakay teammates. He shared, “It’s been tough for all of us because of this pandemic but we’re not just a cage warrior, we’re also warriors in life.”
“We have to deal with this and move forward,” Pacio continued. “We have been finding ways to train amidst the restricted movements we have now. We’ve already got back in the gym and we’re already doing what we are passionate about, a lot of drills, repetitions and learning new techniques in MMA.”