ONE strawweight world champion Joshua Pacio throws down with Japan’s Yosuke Saruta for the third time at ONE Championship: Revolution on Friday.
The Singapore-based card is arguably the biggest of the year for the Asian MMA promotion, with 11 bouts including three title fights topping the marquee. The first of those is the rubber match between Pacio and Saruta, who each hold a win over the other.
For Pacio, it’s been well over a year since he entered the cage, something he noted during a pre-fight press conference on Thursday (local time).
“It’s been one year and eight months, and I’m so excited to be back again inside the circle,” Pacio said in an opening statement. He also noted the time that has passed since the duo’s first two bouts. “It’s been, I think, two years since the rematch. You can see in our past fight, we’ve been improving. Even Saruta is improving. It’s the reason why we’re leveling up, each day. Motivation. He’s the reason why I’m very motivated to level up each day; we’re going to show it tomorrow night, it’s going to be an explosive fight.”
Pacio (17-3), who represents Team Lakay in The Philippines, is now the lone champion in the gym, but he’s not feeling any extra pressure. “I’ve been doing martial arts half of my life, and pressure is already my friend. It’s part of my journey. No, there’s no added pressure,” he said of the notion.
With trilogies a huge part of MMA history, from Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock to Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier, it feels like the three Pacio vs. Saruta fights could be the defining moments of both athlete’s careers.
“For me, this will be one of the greatest fights in my career. Saruta has been one of my motivations, like I said, to level up every day,” Pacio told Cageside Press. “We’re here not just to look for a finish, but to dominate. It’s going to be fire vs. fire, it’s going to be explosive tomorrow.”
For Saruta, meanwhile, the fight all comes down to mentality.
After winning the pair’s first meeting, in their second bout “I couldn’t show off my mentality, in losing this fight,” said Saruta, who was floored with a head kick in the fourth round. This time, however, he plans to show a strong mental game, dragging Pacio into “a deep ocean.”
One key difference is where Saruta is entering the bout. “Last time I fought with Josua Pacio as the champion, but this time I’m going to be the challenger,” the Japanese fighter said in regards to a big difference in his mentality.
If he comes out victorious? Saruta has his sights set high. “If I win this fight, I would like to show up, and I would like to fight Demetrious Johnson in the future of my career.”
ONE: Revolution takes place Friday, September 24, 2021 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang, Singapore.