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Pacio defends ONE straw belt; Folayang, 3 Lakay in mix

BAGUIO CITY – Reigning ONE strawweight champion Joshua Pacio will have his second title defense as he leads four other Team Lakay members in kicking off another year for the most successful team in Asia’s top mixed martial event.


Pacio, known as Passion, will face former strawweight champion Alex “Little Rock” Silva in the main event of the ONE: Fire and Fury at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on January 31.


This is Pacio's second title defense after beating wushu sanda legend Rene Catalan in the ONE: Masters of Fate in November last year.


In recent interviews, Pacio said he must be a different fighter every time he goes in the ring which will exactly be what he will do when he faces the Brazilian who held the belt for five months from Dec. 9, 2017 until May 12, 2018.


Silva won a unanimous decision over Yoshitaka Naito to take the belt and lost it via split decision to the latter.


That belt Pacio wrested on September 22 on that same year from the Japanese, whom he fell to on Oct. 7, 2016, as Team Lakay won its third belt en route to a record fourth with Eduard Folayang two months later.


All four belts Team Lakay lost in early 2019, with Pacio surrendering it to Yosuke Saruta on January 19 while Folayang to Shinya Aoki in their rematch.


Pacio, however, regained the title three months later when he knocked out the Japanese champion in their rematch.


His team members – Geje Eustaquio and Kevin Belingon -- were unable to regain their belts.

Folayang went on to lose to Eddie Alvarez during the Grand Prix semifinals in the first round after dominating early but rebounded with a technical decision on November 8 last year over Tsogookhuu Amarsanaa to end 2019 on a positive note.


Folayang who holds a record 22 wins, eight losses, will face Dutch Pieter Buist in the co-main event of Friday’s event.


Folayang told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that he is quite confident in his upcoming match.

“By God’s grace, that is my confidence,” said the deeply religious former three-time South East Asian Games (SEAG) wushu sanda gold medalist.


Folayang is also confident that his four other teammates will make good in their respective fights.

“I believe me and my teammates can be able to make a statement especially it is the start of 2020,” he added.


In the co-main event, Danny Kingad hopes to rebound against Xie Wei of China after getting decided by Demetrius Johnson on October 12 last year in the Grand Prix semifinals.


Strawweight Lito Adiwang will be facing Pongsiri Mitsatit of Thailand, while atomweight Gina Iniong, a 30th SEAG gold medalist in kickboxing, is set to face Asha Roka of India.


In a recent release of ONE FC, Folayang said he is quite happy with the way his career is going despite the setbacks like in losing the crown to Aoki and Alvarez.


"We can’t change what happened already. Although I would have wanted to perform better than I did, I can’t discount the fact that my opponents were no walks in the park. I had lapses that led to unfavorable outcomes, but I’m still happy that my career is far from over,” he said.


"I would have a lot of regrets if I was already retired, and I would no longer have the opportunity to improve on my lapses. I’m still thankful that I was able to close out the year well. Whatever happened in the past year becomes part of my reflection to prepare for the next fight I’ll be going into," he added.

The undercards will have flyweight Muay Thai match between Petchdam Petchyindee Academy against Japanese Momotaro; bantamweight Kwon Won Il of South Korea and Shoko Sato of Japan; flyweight Ivanildo Delfino of Brazil and Tatsumitsu Wada Japan; atomweight Muay Thai fight between Alma Juniku of Australia and Anne Line Hogstad of Norway; another bantamweight Muay Thai match between Rodlek PK.


Saenchaimuaythaigym of Thailand and Chris Shaw of Scotland; and, Filipina Jomary Torres facing Jenny Huang of Chinese Taipei (atomweight). (PNA)

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