Pacio ushers in Team Lakay's New Generation in 3rd fight with Saruta
The 25-year-old is the last remaining champion from the Philippines, and a fitting bridge from the past to the future as the Filipino fighters strive to remain as one of the best signed under the ONE Championship banner. Pacio, for his part, has welcomed that torchbearer role and is beaming with excitement with what the future holds for their camp. "Of course, we are very happy with where we are right now and I really believe that this is the fruit of our hard toiling. Still, we intend to prove that we're here to stay," he said, slowly shifting from being the bunso to a manong for his fellow young turks in Team Lakay. "I'm just so excited for everyone to see what my teammates are made of. I'm excited to see Stephen Loman, Danny Kingad, Jeremy Pacatiw, Jenelyn Olsim, and Jhanlo Mark Sangiao get back inside the ONE Circle and really show what they can do because I have no doubt that they will become champions, too, in the near future." Pacio, though, knows that aside from the responsibility of being a senior in their camp, he also has to keep his spot as the top dog in his weight class, one he will try to maintain as he closes his trilogy of fights against archrival Yosuke "The Ninja" Saruta at ONE: REVOLUTION in September 24 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. It's a fight Pacio has long wanted, yet one he understood must be done given the history between them and their respective spots in the ladder. "Personally, I don't think that a third bout against Saruta is necessary after what happened in our last encounter," said the champion, alluding to his stellar fourth round knockout win over the Japanese at ONE: ROOTS OF HONOR back in April 2019. Pacio reclaimed the belt in thunderous fashion, connecting with a killer head kick that put Saruta to sleep to once again become the ONE Strawweight World Champion. "In our last bout, it was a clear victory for us," he said of the match, which came just three months removed from Saruta's stunning split decision win at ONE: ETERNAL GLORY in January. Saruta, though, has crawled his way back to no. 1 contender status.