THE REIGN of Filipino Joshua “The Passion” Pacio as ONE Championship world champion abruptly ended on Saturday night as he lost his strawweight title to Japanese challenger Yosuke “Tobizaru” Saruta by way of split decision at “ONE: Eternal Glory” in Indonesia.
Making his first title defense after ascending to the top on September last year, Mr. Pacio of Benguet fought gallantly amid a tremendous performance from Mr. Saruta but could not sway the judges in his favor in the end.
The Japanese was relentless with his chain wrestling, taking the Filipino down on numerous occasions while trading powerful combinations on the feet.
Throughout five action-packed rounds, both fighters put forth their best effort. In the end, however, it was Mr. Saruta who was able to garner two of the three judges’ nods to win by split decision.
With the loss, Mr. Pacio (13-3-0) of Team Lakay saw his four-fight winning streak come to an end while now-world strawweight champion Saruta improved to 19-8-3, going 2-0 in ONE Championship to date.
Also falling short at Eternal Glory at the Istora Senayan in Jakarta was Mr. Pacio’s Team Lakay teammate Edward “The Ferocious” Kelly, who bowed to Singaporean Christian “The Warrior” Lee in the first round of their featherweight rematch.
Mr. Lee (11-3) was dominant right from the start. After a brief exchange on the feet, the Singaporean took matters to the ground and worked himself into a full mount. From top, Mr. Lee pounded the Filipino with downward strikes until the referee called a halt to the contest at the 2:53 mark of the first round.
The loss pulled the 34-year-old Kelly’s record to 11-6.
It was not a complete shutout in Indonesia for the Filipinos though as Robin “D’ Ilonggo” Catalan managed to win over hometown bet Stefer “The Lion” Rahardian by unanimous decision in their strawweight battle.
The Filipino warrior Catalan was a step ahead on all fronts, easily preventing Mr. Rahardian’s takedowns while also picking the latter apart in the striking department and landing some takedowns of his own. After three rounds of action, it was Mr. Catalan who walked away with the win on all three of the judges’ scorecards.
Mr. Catalan is now sporting a 9-4 record.
Next for ONE Championship is “Hero’s Ascent” on Jan. 25 here in Manila where world flyweight champion Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio of the Philippines faces off with former champion Adriano Moraes of Brazil. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo