MANILA, Philippines — Team Lakay's Joshua Pacio may be the last man standing in what had been an erstwhile a long list of Philippine titlists in ONE Championship, but he does not put himself at par yet with the country's mixed martial arts legends.
With names like Eduard Folayang, Kevin Belingon and Brandon Vera all suffering setbacks that stripped them of their respective titles in the Singapore promotion, the 25-year-old Pacio refuses to let his name be among those of his "kuyas" in the sport.
"I'm still young and I think I'm still far from the level of Kuya Eduard [Folayang] or Kuya Brandon [Vera]," said Pacio of the former ONE World Lightweight and Heavyweight titlists.
"I'm not on my peak yet. Give us three to five years more and you can see a very different Joshua Pacio," he added.
It was Vera who most recently lost his belt, yielding it to India's Arjan Bhullar in ONE: Dangal in May.
Though it seems like the reputation of Philippine supremacy in ONE Championship now rests on the shoulders of Pacio as the lone reigning titlist, the 25-year-old refuses to aim at anything except being a better fighter than he was yesterday.
"A lot of people are saying that I'm the only champion left for the Philippines. But for me, I don't feel any pressure because that's not what's in my head right now," said Pacio.
"Instead, I'm more focused on improving my skills and I'm more focused on what to bring next inside the ONE Circle," said Pacio.
Besides, the strawweight titlist expects another surge of Filipino champions to come forth — especially from his stablemates in Team Lakay.
"I think being the lone Filipino champion in ONE won't take very long because I'm confident that my teammates will be champions soon," said Pacio.
Among the rising stars in Team Lakay is former BRAVE CF Bantamweight titlist Stephen Loman, the surging Lito Adiwang, and recently signed second generation star Jhanlo Sangiao.
Credit belongs to : www.philstar.com