Reigning ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua "The Passion" Pacio will be glued to his television set when Brazil's Alex "Little Rock" Silva makes his return to action this coming Friday, 7 December.
Silva is tasked to battle Japanese veteran Yosuke Saruta at ONE: DESTINY OF CHAMPIONS, which emanates from the state-of-the-art Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
In his most recent bout, Silva relinquished the ONE Strawweight World Title to Japanese rival Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito by way of razor-thin split decision in a highly-anticipated rematch at ONE: GRIT AND GLORY this past May.
The Brazilian grappling wizard is looking to get back to his winning form against Saruta, hoping to land an opportunity to vie for the division’s top prize.
With Silva setting his sights to reinsert himself in the world title picture, Pacio will be watching his every move from the comfort of his home in Baguio City, Philippines.
"Alex Silva is a former ONE World Champion and a third-degree jiu-jitsu black belt. I have nothing but high regard and respect for Silva," said Pacio, who dethroned Naito for the gold-plated strap at ONE: CONQUEST OF HEROES last September.
Pacio is well aware that Silva could be nipping at his heels as the latter continues to evolve as a martial artist, showing new dimensions to his growing skillset.
Silva's career-defining moment came in December 2017 when he defeated Naito for the strawweight crown in their exhilarating first encounter at ONE: WARRIORS OF THE WORLD in December 2017.
Known as a submission specialist, Silva figured in a striking clinic against Naito, putting together dynamic combinations en route to a unanimous decision victory.
Pacio sees Silva as a legitimate threat to anyone in the talent-filled strawweight division as he now sports an improved striking to blend with his dreaded ground game.
"His first bout with Naito stood out. He improved his striking, and the way he outlanded Naito that night got him the belt. However, Naito was ahead in terms of conditioning in the rematch," he stated.
Team Lakay’s young champion believes that it is only a matter of time before they collide inside the ONE Championship cage.
"We may very well get to face each other. There is a rivalry between Team Lakay and Evolve MMA nowadays. This matchup is not far from happening,” Pacio explained.
Aside from Silva, Pacio also revealed that he is on the lookout for other athletes in his stacked weight class, including old foes such as Naito and Hayato Suzuki.
"Yoshitaka Naito, Hayato Suzuki and Alex Silva are the top contenders and the biggest names in my division. They're all grapplers, but a match will always start standing up," he noted.
"I have to work on my wrestling defense, make my striking sharper, and not give them a chance to look for a submission.”
Despite having a long list of contenders for his belt, Pacio pointed out that Silva is a cut above the rest due to his significant growth as a competitor.
"Suzuki is explosive. Naito, on the other hand, is durable and battle-tested. Silva, meanwhile, is the most well-rounded among the three athletes. His growth as a martial artist is very evident. That’s why I want to test my skills against him,” he mentioned.
Pacio will make his maiden defense of his ONE Strawweight World Championship next year, but he already has an opponent in mind.
"I am looking forward to facing Alex Silva in the near future,” he declared. “I want him to win against Yosuke Saruta.”
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