ONE Championship’s recent live show in Macau, China, produced difficult results to Filipino mixed martial arts fighters Joshua “The Passion” Pacio and Eric “The Natural” Kelly after bowed to their respective opponents, something both of them hope to learn from and use as motivation for their next fights.

Pacio, Kelly look to bounce back after tough losses in Macau
Team Lakay’s Joshua Pacio vows to get back to winning after losing in ONE Championship’s recent live event in Macau, China. — ALVIN S. GO

Team Lakay’s Pacio and veteran fighter Kelly saw themselves stopped convincingly at “ONE: Kings & Conquerors” at the Cotai Arena in The Venetian Macao, with the former submitted by Japanese strawweight Hayato Suzuki by way of a rear-naked choke in the opening round, and Mr. Kelly falling by technical knockout to former ONE lightweight champion Kotetsu Boku in the third round.

Mr. Pacio of Baguio City was looking to fortify his push in the division with a possible win over Mr. Suzuki but was waylaid by the Japanese who did not allow the Filipino to get his game going.

After Mr. Pacio missed slightly on a spinning back kick attempt, Mr. Suzuki capitalized on it by taking his back and dragging the Filipino to the ground.

Mr. Pacio tried hard to fight off Mr. Suzuki’s submission attempts, but the latter was unrelenting and eventually got to a choking position and went for it, prompting Mr. Pacio to tap out at the 3:17 mark of the first round.

“This is a difficult loss since it went too fast and I did not get the chance to make anything happen. I would rather be bloodied and all and lost than to lose this way. It seems like two months of preparation went to waste that fast,” Mr. Pacio said after the event.

But the 21-year-old Pacio (9-2) said he is owning up to the loss and will prepare hard to get back into winning.

“I did not get the win this time. A loss is a loss and I’m not going to shy away from it. He (Suzuki) proved to be the better man tonight but take note that I will bounce back from this. I’m still young and will learn from this,” said Mr. Pacio, who admitted to being taken by surprise by Mr. Suzuki when the Japanese got his back instead of engaging.

For Mr. Kelly (12-4), who was hoping to revitalize his career after a string of losses in ONE Championship, said his recent loss left him very disappointed.

“I really feel disappointed with what happened. I was really prepared for my bout against Kotetsu Boku, but there are things that are beyond our control,” said 35-year-old Kelly.

While he did well in standing up against the former champion Boku early in the contest, including throwing down some solid hits that rocked his opponent, Mr. Kelly failed to sustain it and just could not prevent the tide from swinging to his opponent as the fight wore on en route to being TKO’d in the third round by punches.

“I am fine and thankful that there was no harm done to me. But I cannot deny that I am disappointed. I have to accept the outcome. It is a hard lesson for me, but I will be back as an improved and better fighter,” the Benguet native said.

“It’s not a defeat. I think of it as a lesson. It will serve as an inspiration to push myself to the limit. I will triple my time in training. Right now I need some little time for myself and think about what happened, but it won’t be long because I want to get back inside the cage and redeem myself. Winning and fighting again will motivate me,” Mr. Kelly added.

Next stop for ONE Championship is Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Aug. 18 for “ONE: Quest for Greatness.” — Michael Angelo S. Murillo