Pacio ‘Confident’ Ahead Of ONE Fight Night 15
Filipino star Joshua Pacio is back in action at ONE Fight Night 15 for the first time since losing the ONE Strawweight MMA World Title. The former divisional king will try to get back in the win column against Russian Mansur Malachiev. It is a matchup Pacio believes is strongly in his favor.
Pacio has been extremely motivated to return, so much so he has been willing to compete against anyone ranked inside the top five of the official ONE Championship athlete rankings. Since losing to Jarred Brooks, Pacio has been fueled with a singular mission. “The Passion” wants his gold belt back.
“I am willing to fight anyone in the top five, and with Mansur being in the top five, I’m gonna fight him. I’m okay with Gustavo Balart, I’m okay with Hiroba Minowa, and I would’ve wanted to face Bokang Masunyane, but it’s Mansur who took the fight, so let’s get it on,” Pacio told ONE.
Pacio knows Malachiev will bring the action to him in Bangkok. However, after facing off against Brooks, Pacio is confident he has already faced the division’s best grappler. Pacio believes he can shut down the wrestling game of his opponent and use his standup arsenal to affirm his #1 contender’s ranking.
“Even in his fights in Eagle FC [where Malachiev became a champion], he was a monster wrestler. He’s also very good at putting together chains of submissions, so he’s certainly a high-level grappler. But I believe I’ve already fought the best wrestler in my division, and that is Jarred Brooks. This gives me more confidence to face Mansur. I believe I have more tools than him in MMA,” Pacio explained.
That will be easier said than done. Nobody has been able to do it to date. The 11-0 Russian has finished nine of his 11 victories, including his ONE debut against Jeremy Miado.
For Pacio, that is an even better way to show he’s still the top dog in the strawweight division. If he can show the world he can contend with an elite grappler, he will show he is ready for a second go-around with Brooks. This is a key matchup to address his biggest weakness and put a blemish on Malachiev’s record.
“If I stop Malachiev’s takedowns, great. If I don’t, then now I know what to do. That’s the most important thing. Nothing’s gonna happen if you keep saying to yourself, ‘Don’t get taken down, don’t get taken down.’ The most important thing is knowing what to do whatever your position is in the fight – be it on the bottom, on top, or standing. Going into this fight, I can say that I’m confident because I know what to do whether I’m on the bottom defending or on the top,” Pacio said.
Although Pacio has a focus on stopping the wrestling game of the 31-year-old, he still wants to add another highlight to his reel. The 27-year-old always wants to lift the audience off their feet with a big knockout. But at ONE Fight Night 15, he will not chase the finish and expects a grueling war.
“Of course, I want to win in spectacular fashion, I want to stop him. But I know what my opponent is capable of. If I could predict, I feel like this will be a three-rounder. But don’t get me wrong, I’m working on things and we’re cooking a game plan that, if I execute well, will mean I’m going to stop him,” Pacio said.
ONE Fight Night 15 airs live on Prime Video on Friday, October 6. The action begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT. The event is free for all Amazon Prime members based in the U.S. and Canada.