New age beckons for Team Lakay as Jeremy "The Juggernaut" Pacatiw makes his much-awaited promotional debut at ONE: BATTLEGROUND on July 30.
The 25-year-old is coming in with immense promise, evidenced by his previous performances that made him one of the most intriguing young talents to join the ONE family.
But for those who closely followed his career, Pacatiw also said that he has improved ten-fold, stating that the version coming to ONE Championship is a finer fighter than the one the public last saw.
"I'll say now that they will see a different breed of Jeremy Pacatiw, a much better version of me," he said.
Make no mistake about it though, Pacatiw is ecstatic for this new chapter of his career as he takes on all comers with his fellow Team Lakay peers by his side at ONE.
"I am very, very much excited for my debut. I won't go into details about our preparation but I believe we have everything set for this fight," he said, upbeat of his chances as he has tirelessly trained with coach Mark Sangiao months before his signing became public last June.
Pacatiw steps into the ONE Circle for the first time with Chinese foe Chen Rui, motivated to leave a lasting impression and prove that like his stablemates, he is here to stay.
And it's from these Team Lakay seniors did he get valuable insights ahead of his first fight for the promotion, with the likes of reigning ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua "The Passion" Pacio and two-time ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard "Landslide" Folayang among those on his ears.
"They only gave me positive reminders ahead of my debut. They also told me that I should keep in mind that this being my debut, this is the moment for me to shine and get my name remembered," he said.
It truly is a golden opportunity for Pacatiw to introduce himself and show that the next generation of Team Lakay is ready to seize the spotlight, joining the next wave of Igorot fighters led by Pacio, Danny "The King" Kingad, Lito "Thunder Kid" Adiwang, and fellow ONE newcomers Stephen "The Sniper" Loman, Jenelyn Olsim, and Jhanlo Mark Sangiao.
Aware of the decorated history Team Lakay has in the promotion, Pacatiw is just using it as an inspiration to be able to deliver a memorable fight in his first taste of action in ONE.
"I just stay focused. I don't really feel pressured because that's what they reminded me of. The most important thing in my mind right now is to win, and that's it," he said.
Of all of the Team Lakay manongs Pacatiw has gotten advice from, he treasures the words he got from Kevin "The Silencer" Belingon the most.
After all, Belingon has been at the peak in the same division, once holding the ONE Bantamweight World Championship after topping Bibiano "The Flash" Fernandes with a split decision win at ONE: HEART OF THE LION back in November 2018.
"Manong Kevin told me that I should give my all in the fight. He also reminded me to stay focused on the match all the time and not get distracted by anything that's happening outside of the cage," he said.
Pacatiw, however, is leaving no stones unturned.
As much focus as he has on his personal development, he and Sangiao have also crafted a potent gameplan against Chen, scouting the competition and pinpointing weaknesses he can exploit.
"I watched his fights and I saw my advantages as well as my disadvantages against him," stated Pacatiw, not losing sight of the hunger the Chinese fighter will have heading into this duel after suffering a third round knockout loss to Kwon Won Il of Korea at ONE: UNBREAKABLE II last January.
That loss sent Chen to a 9-2 card as he's now lost two of his last four fights. For Pacatiw though, that only makes his opponent all the more dangerous.
Yet there's no question of what he's gunning for in this match -- a definitive finish which should propel his stock on his way to be considered as one of the next contenders for the ONE Bantamweight World Championship.
"In MMA, anything can happen. It could be a knockout, a submission, or a decision, so we really don't know what can happen. But I'm positive that the result of all my hardwork will show on July 30," he said, aware of the magnitude his debut match can mean for his career.
"This match is so huge for me that it's a must that I win this. Everything else will follow. Every fight that I win will lead me closer to the top and eventually, becoming a champion at ONE. But my focus is here, and we've prepared well for this fight."
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