Strawweight champion Joshua Pacio faced number one contender Jarred Brooks in the main event of ONE 164 in the champ’s home country of the Philippines on Saturday.
The long-anticipated strawweight scrap did not diappoint.
Brooks, aka “The Monkey God,” would look to use his wrestling to take down the Wushu artist Pacio and perhaps submit him while Pacio looked for another highlight reel knockout.
Brooks came out using in-and-out movement to attack Pacio and after landing a good right hand Brooks landed a takedown easily in the first thirty seconds. Jarred looked to land punches and elbows in the full guard of Joshua Pacio. He had good success, and Pacio seemed unable to get back up, only offering elbows off of his back. With three minutes left in the round Pacio tried to scramble to his feet but Brooks stayed on him.
Pacio then locked up a guillotine choke and tried to submit the challenger but the American was able to pass guard and escape the choke. Pacio continually was moving and looking to create angles to throw up submissions or elbows but Brooks was heavy on top. The striking explosions of Brooks from on top did consistent, significant damage to the champion and likely got him an early lead despite landing a late upkick that landed clean from Pacio. He had shown that when he takes down Pacio, the champion was unable to escape from bottom.
Early in round two Pacio landed a nasty spinning backfist but the chin of Brooks held up well and he got in on a single leg off of that exchange. Pacio showed better takedown defense as he stayed up but was still stuck in the clinch with his legs being grasped by his foe. Finally they got back to range, but not before Brooks landed a knee to the head on the break. A blitz from Brooks got him tagged by the sharp hands of Pacio; he was clearly less comfortable striking than wrestling against the champion. Jared Brooks began to hurl barbs at his opponent, apparently saying the shots from Pacio were not hurting him. Brooks shot a takedown late in the round and received boos from the Manila crowd as Pacio defended the takedown. The round ended with a big right hand from Brooks.
The third round began with Pacio stuffing another takedown. Despite the striking advantage on paper for Pacio the exchanges on the feet now seemed to be fairly even as Brooks circled the champion, who held the center of the cage at all times. This third round was slower and Pacio was very defensive, hardly offering any offense at all while Brooks occasionally darted in with singular strikes. Pacio partially landed a spinning back kick to the stomach with two minutes left but Brooks called him on for more. Late in the round Pacio began to throw a few more strikes but they were always singular, never in combination, and almost all kicks. Both men offered wild round and spin kicks with little success. A right hand from Brooks once again closed out the round. The fight was close but Brooks was far more active, even when unable to land takedowns.
The championship rounds presented some questions as Brooks had never been this far in a professional fight. The commentary mused on if his cardio would hold up. Pacio’s corner offered surprising advice, telling him to take down the wrestler to surprise him. Brooks came out with explosive strikes and Pacio thought about a single leg but let it go quickly. The pace was once again slow, punctuated only by explosions from Jarred Brook which Pacio occasionally met with his own strikes but more often avoided.
Brooks got a slick takedown inside of two minutes, shucked right to the back, and locked up a body triangle immediately. Brooks landed punches from the back as he looked to get past Pacio’s arms, which defended his neck, and lock up a rear-naked choke. He tried for it in earnest with thirty seconds left but the angle was wrong, he was off to the side of the champion. Pacio kept wrist control as best he could. With ten seconds left in the round Brooks got in a choke that seemed as if it would end the fight, but Pacio was able to get his chin between his neck and the forearm of Brooks. He stopped fighting and waited for the round to end. The last visual of the champion in round four was a thumbs up to the referee and camera.
Still, it seemed as though Joshua Pacio was down going into the final round, having been seemingly out-landed and out-grappled. He was slightly more active this round, landing a good left hook early on, but still spent a lot of time waiting for his openings. Brooks gave Pacio an opening when he fell on his back off of a jumping knee, but when Pacio went for a hammerfist Brooks sprung back to his feet. As the halfway point came and went, Pacio still was letting his belt slip away via inactivity. With seventy seconds left in the round Brooks shot a takedown for the first time this round and landed it successfully. Not content to sit on his lead, ‘The Monkey King’ still made sure to posture up and land powerful strikes to the head and body. Brooks attempted a front choke in the final seconds but the bell rang before he could do anything with it.
ONE Championship bouts are scored as a whole but it seemed that Brooks had won under any scoring system, having been more active offensively, inflicted more damage, and had more success grappling. When Dom Lau read the scorecards there was no surprise from any judges and Jarred Brooks heard, “And new,” to win his first major MMA title.
After the fight, Brooks expressed his admiration of the Filipino people after playing the heel role ahead of the fight. “I know I’ve been the heel a lot in my last fights, but I’m a good person. I don’t want anybody to think that I’m not,” Brooks added, before calling out Demetrious Johnson for a Champ vs. Champ fight.
Official Result: Jarred Brooks def. Joshua Pacio (c) by unanimous decision