Pacio defends ONE strawweight strap vs. Brooks

JOSHUA Pacio is out to prove that he’s still the king of his division as he defends his ONE strawweight belt against No. 1 contender Jarred Brooks on Dec. 3, 2022 in front of a hometown crowd at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Manila.“Finally after almost two years, ONE Championship is back here in the Philippines! I’m really excited because the last time I fought there was no audience and hopefully there will be one when we do the event here in the Philippines,” said Pacio in a statement.Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world, ONE Championship hosted all of its shows in Singapore. The last time ONE Championship had an event in the Philippines was on Jan. 31, 2020. Pacio headlined the event and defended his belt against Alex Silva at the Mall of Asia Arena.After losing his first title attempt against Yoshitaka Naito in 2016, Pacio earned another title shot against the Japanese champion in a rematch two years later. This time, Pacio outclassed Naito and beat him by unanimous decision to claim the ONE strawweight belt. He lost the belt in his first title defense following a split decision defeat to Yosuke Saruta in 2019. The two would have a rematch on that same year and the 26-year-old Pacio didn’t leave it to the hands of the judges and knocked Saruta out in the fourth round.Pacio would have two successful title defenses against Rene Catalan and Silva before his third fight with Saruta last year. Pacio ended the trilogy abruptly after knocking out Saruta in the first round.“It motivates me even more because I’ll be defending my world title in front of my countrymen and I hope that I won’t be the only fighter from the gym to fight in this card. I wish that there’d be five or even six of us from Team Lakay so that it’ll be an awesome experience,” said Pacio.The 29-year-old Brooks took the ONE strawweight division by storm. He made a statement in his ONE debut in 2021 after submitting Lito Adiwang, Pacio’s teammate, via an arm triangle in second round. He followed up that impressive win by beating another ranked strawweight in Hiroba Minowa, who he beat by unanimous decision last Jan. 28. He fi ally earne a title shot after beating yet another highly ranked strawweight in Bokang Masunyane, who he submitted in the first round via a rear-naked choke.Brooks is a very dangerous well-rounded fighter. He has faced current UFC Deiveson Figueiredo, Jose Torres and Eric Shelton.Pacio is 20-3 with nine submission victories and seven knockouts, while Brooks is 19-2 with eight submission wins and two knockouts.