Filipino fighter Joshua Pacio knows that if he plays his cards right against Thai combatant Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke, he will get an opportunity to challenge Japanese veteran Yoshitaka Naito for the ONE Strawweight World Championship title again.
Pacio and Naito crossed paths this past October in the main event of ONE: STATE OF WARRIORS, where the latter had to endure two grueling rounds before he pulled off a come-from-behind victory by submitting the Pinoy prospect with a rear-naked choke in the third frame to keep the gold-plated strap around his waist.
The 21-year-old Baguio City native hopes that if he secures a convincing win over Dejdamrong, it will grant him a second date with Naito for the ONE Strawweight World Championship belt later this year.
“I want to fight for the world title again. I was inches away from winning it, but one mistake took that one crowning moment away from me. Since my loss to Naito, vying for the world title once again is my main goal,” Pacio stated.
“I have the chance to face Naito again for the belt if I will get the win over Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke on March 11. The stakes are high in this fight,” he added.
However, Pacio is not alone in the quest to get a second encounter with Naito as Dejdamrong also has a history with the undefeated Japanese champion.
Dejdamrong relinquished his hold of the ONE Strawweight World Championship belt to Naito in May 2016, yielding to the Japanese submission specialist by way of fourth-round rear-naked choke.
Even though it was not publicly announced that the meeting between Pacio and Dejdamrong will be a title eliminator, the Filipino standout truly believes that the winner of the bout will get a rematch with Naito.
“Dejdamrong is a former champion. For sure, he wants to face Naito again and reclaim the belt. On the other hand, I have the same goal in mind. There’s no doubt that the winner of this fight will face Naito. It’s a must-win bout for both of us,” Pacio said.
Pacio clarified that he is not in a hurry and is willing to wait for his turn as strawweights like Alex Silva and Rene Catalan has moved up in the rankings with their recent wins inside the ONE Championship cage.
If he manages to get his hand raised against Dejdamrong, Pacio is ready to prove his position as next in line for Naito’s strawweight title.
“I am not in a hurry. I will honor and respect ONE Championship’s decision if they will not give me another title shot after this fight,” he said. “I will always be grateful with what I have. I have no problem if I need to prove once again that I deserve a championship opportunity.”
Pacio locks horns with Dejdamrong on the undercard of ONE: WARRIOR KINGDOM, which takes place at the 12,000-seater Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand on 11 March.