By Nissi Icasiano/rappler.com – Filipino prospect Joshua Pacio may see his name in the Philippine mixed martial arts (MMA) history book as a victory over Japanese champion Yoshitaka Naito will enshrine him as the youngest homegrown Filipino fighter to capture a world title.
Pacio is set to challenge Naito for the ONE Championship strawweight title in the main event of the “State of Warriors” card, which takes place at the Thuwanna Indoor Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar, on October 7.
At the age of 20, Pacio could be the youngest full-blooded Pinoy MMA competitor to wear a world championship belt around his waist.
“I see it as an honor and a privilege if I will win the belt on October 7. In this profession, all fighters want to cement their own legacy. I guess this is my opportunity to have my place in history,” Pacio told Rappler.
Aside from potentially being recognized as the youngest Filipino MMA world champion, Pacio could follow the footsteps of the late Ale Cali, Crisanto Pitpitunge, Honorio Banario, and Jenel Lausa as homegrown talents that have bagged a world title in the sport of MMA.
Pacio stressed that records are merely icing on the cake as it serves no purpose without the gold-plated strap in his possession.
“The No.1 goal is to show a good performance to win the belt. Everything else comes in second. In order to have that record, I have to be a champion first. My main focus is on getting the belt,” he stated.
Pacio is being touted by numerous cageside observers as the most promising young fighter in the Philippine MMA scene today, but some took a step back when he was granted a crack at Naito’s ONE Championship strawweight trinket.
While many believe that it might be too early for Pacio to be positioned in a title picture, Pacio has chosen to turn a deaf ear and set his sights on the prize.
“Many told me that I’m too young to have this title fight, but I’m not listening to them. I have my teammates, coaches and family. They all believe that I can do it,” he shared.
According to Pacio, everything he presently basks in is a testament to his dedication in honing his craft.
“I still can’t believe that I’m fighting for a world title. All the hard work has finally paid off. I’m here to give back to my team and to this country. It’s my duty to get inside the cage and walk out as the winner,” he said.
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