By Dan Paulo Errazo
Team Lakay did not want to start the year by losing two of their World Titles six days apart. However, Joshua “The Passion” Pacio lost his ONE Strawweight World Title to Yosuke “Tobizaru” Saruta and then a week later Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio surrendered his ONE Flyweight World Title to Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes.
Needless to say, things didn’t exactly pan out the way Team Lakay had hoped.
Despite this, coach Mark Sangiao’s confidence and faith in his athletes to become World Champions once more has not wavered. Pacio, in particular, still has room for improvement under Sangiao’s guidance.
“It’s difficult and heartbreaking for me to see my athlete who worked really hard lose. But like what we always say, we either win or we learn,” said Sangiao.
“With Joshua, it was really close, he could’ve won. He won the striking department but I’m not sure how the judges scored the takedowns, that could have been the reason why we lost. But I have faith in Joshua that he will come back and become a World Champion again.”
Pacio did his best to defend his title against Saruta in Jakarta last 19 January but Saruta’s grappling skills outshined the Baguio City native’s striking. With the split decision ruling in favor of the Japanese warrior, Sangiao came up with a plan to improve his ward Pacio.
“We will prepare and train Joshua according to his performance and the result of his match,” said Sangiao
“We saw what Joshua lacked to win so we will work on those. We will make Joshua a complete martial artist. It will be a different Joshua that you will see in the rematch. That is what I want to do for Joshua.”
ONE CEO and founder Chatri Sityodtong shared his personal opinion about the matchup, disagreeing with the judges’ decision that crowned Saruta as the new ONE Strawweight World Champion. Sityodtong then promised the press that a rematch between the Team Lakay stalwart and Saruta will happen in the near future.
“We will definitely welcome a rematch and I can confidently say the result will be different. Next time, we won’t leave the fight at the hands of the judges,” Sangiao concluded.
“I always tell my athletes to love what you do and do not give up. Just always remember to work hard and work smart.”