Being the lone champion from Team Lakay and the Philippines surrounded Joshua Pacio with questions regarding pressure and whatnots.

ONE strawweight champion Joshua Pacio (ONE Championship)

And for someone who has been practicing martial arts for a long time, Pacio, 25, is no stranger when it comes to dealing with such situations.

“I’ve been doing this for half of my life and pressure is already my friend,” said Pacio in a live press conference and face-off Thursday, Sept. 23 ahead of his trilogy bout against Japanese rival and No. 1 contender Yosuke Saruta in ONE: Revolution at the Singapore Indoor Stadium Friday night, Sept. 24.

“It’s part of my journey, there’s no added pressure. Being the lone champion from Team Lakay and the Philippines, I’m confident with my teammates in the near future [that] they will be champions,” added Pacio, who holds a 19-3 record.

READ: Pacio to defend title vs Saruta, 2 other Filipinos to compete in ONE: Revolution

Pacio is expecting an explosive fight against Saruta as the two top strawweight fighters meet again in the Circle for the third time.

The Igorot warrior lost the strawweight belt to Saruta in January 2019 but Pacio reclaimed it three months later in April of the same year with a vicious right high knee in the fourth round of their rematch.

Considering the trilogy as one of the greatest fights of his career, Pacio, who will defend the strawweight belt for the third straight time, said Saruta served as one of his motivations to continue on improving his arsenal.

“Saruta has been one of my motivations to level up every day. We’re here not to just look for a finish but to dominate. It’s gonna be fire versus fire, it’s gonna be explosive tomorrow,” added Pacio.

The Filipino fighter has not fought since scoring a split decision win over former world champion Alex Silva in January 2020 while Saruta, who has a 21-9-3 win-loss-draw record, rides on a two-match win streak after defeating compatriots Daichi Kitakata in October 2019 and ONE’s division No. 2 Yoshitaka Naito in September last year.

Source: Manila Bulletin (