JOSHUA Pacio went to Thailand with redemption in mind, and not even former champ Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke, and his thousands of screaming home fans, could stop him.
Pacio silenced the home crowd as he weathered DSA's flurry of strikes in the third to come away with a split decision victory on Saturday in Bangkok.
"It was a tough fight against DSA. I was expecting it because he is a former champion in Muay Thai and a world champion in MMA. You cannot deny that he has a heart of a true warrior," Pacio said after being brought into a tough grind in the third round, where his foe's Muay Thai background came into play.
"I had the same plan in the third round, but I was surprised that he managed to get his second wind. Yes, he got me a couple of times. But I trained for that. I was ready for worst-case scenarios," he added.
The win may have given Team Lakay's stalwart a chance at avenging his loss against ONE strawweight champion Yoshitaka Naito.
For a few moments in their match back in October, Pacio looked like he was on his way to becoming one of the youngest champions in ONE Championship at age 20 as he negated the advantages of 'Nobita' on the ground with excellent takedown defense and top notch striking.
But one mistake in the third round proved to be fatal and it's something that lingers in Pacio.
"Of course, I am looking forward to a rematch with Yoshitaka Naito. I almost won the title last October. One mistake took it all away from me," Pacio continued.
"With the loss to Naito and the win over DSA, it has molded me into a better competitor," he added.