ONE Fighting Championship strawweight world champion Joshua Pacio emerged from a yearlong pandemic lull and erased all doubts about his martial arts supremacy, ending the trilogy of his most bitter rival Yosuke Saruta as the Igorot ended the Japanese with a first round technical knockout in ONE: Revolution co-main event Friday evening in Singapore.
Pacio countered with a roundhouse right hook on Saruta’s temple after absorbing a leg kick from the latter, staggering down the Japanese.
Pacio then unleashed a flurry of blows as Saruta turned his back.
Knocked down on the ground, Saruta absorbed three head-shattering head blows from Pacio, prompting a referee stoppage at the 2:22 mark of the first round.
“It’s been one year and eight months I’ve been out, it’s been hard, but I have proven myself to be ready and I’m here to stay as champion,” Pacio said after the bout.
“It’s really about who’s gonna find the right opening and I did it,” he commented.
Pacio improves to 19 wins, including seven knockouts and nine submissions, and three losses. He has also defended his title for a third time.
Saruta first fought Pacio in January 2019 in Jakarta, winning by split decision and grabbing the strawweight belt from the Filipino.
Three months later in Manila, Pacio regained the title, putting Saruta to sleep with a head kick on the fourth round.
Pacio successfully defended the belt from compatriot Rene Catalan, who he submitted with a triangle choke in the second round in November 2019, and against Brazilian Alex Silva via split decision in January 2020, before hitting the showers due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
In earlier fights involving Filipinos, fellow Lakay fighter Lito Adiwang won via unanimous decision against China’s Hexigetu in a low-blow-marred fight, where Adiwang absorbed three groin kicks from the Inner Mongolian.
Adiwang improves to 13 wins and three losses in just his second decision victory.
In the first bout, America’s James Yang knocked out Cebuano journeyman Roel Rosauro via ground-and-pound in the second round.
Rosauro absorbed his fourth loss in nine bouts.
Photo: Joshua Pacio Facebook page