ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua Pacio of Baguio District, Philippines, had been inspired to take up martial arts from the age of 12. It’s a hobby he strongly followed, winning multiple major wushu competitions in the Philippines before moving into mixed martial arts. Indeed, it was martial arts that helped him grow up through several tough times, as his father moved overseas to work and support the family when he was just six years old.
This, however, meant that he needed to be more confident, and he was toughened by the experience to become a stronger person. As a boy, Pacio also cites martial arts with helping him lose the extra pounds, making him the outstanding athlete he is today. Pacio quickly made his professional debut following an unbeaten amateur career, where he went 6-0 before making it to the ONE Championship world stage. Pacio challenged Yoshitaka Naito for the 2016 ONE Strawweight World Title, following a dramatic journey through the ranks.
While he fell short in his first World Title challenge, he remained inspired by the teammates of the powerhouse world champions he practices at Team Lakay every day. All of Pacio’s hopes came true in September 2018 when he beat Naito via unanimous decision to eventually climb the strawweight throne. Though he lost the belt to Yosuke Saruta in his first World Title defense, he regained the belt in an instant rematch to once again pose as the world’s best strawweight.
And today, Joshua Pacio has appeared in the rankings released by ONE Championship as the top-rated Filipino fighter. Pacio, 24, ranked number one in his strawweight division ahead of the Japanese Yosuke Saruta and Yoshitaka Naito based on the latest rankings of a group of professional fighters such as Rich Franklin, Miesha Tate, Sharon Osman, and mixed media-related martial experts.
But ONE did not rate the heavier divisions, like that of the current heavyweight champion, the Filipino-American Brandon Vera.
It also did not come up with a pound-for-pound ranking for ONE, which would have put Pacio in the top five overall, where he will be alongside those in the company of the legendary fighters of the history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship Demetrious Johnson and Bibiano Fernandez.
Congratulations to the Rising ONE Champion Fighter of the Philippines. Keep it up, Pacio!