Over the weekend, Joshua Pacio returned to the winner’s circle by edging out Mansur Malachiev.
Both men squared off on the supporting card of ONE Fight Night 15, where the 27-year-old phenom from Baguio City walked away with a razor-thin unanimous decision against the previously-unbeaten bruiser from Dagestan, Russia.
Despite picking up a pivotal win, Pacio remains his harshest critic, believing that he fell short of showcasing his absolute best.
“Honestly, I’m not impressed by my performance. That’s not the best Joshua Pacio,” he told Tiebreaker Times.
The former ONE strawweight champion identified a primary issue in his performance – allowing a significant portion of the action to take place on the ground.
Throughout the bout, he found himself on his back multiple times, which hindered his ability to display his striking prowess.
However, even in this disadvantageous position, “The Passion” kept himself active, unloading punches and elbows while constantly fishing for submission attempts.
“I was so relaxed in there. Yes, he was on top, but he was doing basically nothing. Mansur was just scoring short punches and was content doing his work inside my guard. On my part, I was throwing elbows and punches while on my back,” he recalled.
“I was confident handling Malachiev on the ground. I even caught him with a guillotine choke. I heard and noticed that he was struggling with his breathing.”
As he grew more fixated on defending Malachiev’s wrestling, the latter seized the opportunity to cause the Filipino to experience a brief moment of shock.
At one point in the encounter, the Russian stood toe-to-toe with Pacio and even delivered a spinning backfist.
“I was surprised because he hit me with one of my specialties—the spinning backfist. I was not rocked. But I wouldn’t deny that it made me smile,” Pacio stated.
Pacio couldn’t help but regret not engaging in more stand-up exchanges with his opponent, thinking that it could have given him a more decisive victory.
“The first round saw me landing a number of good leg kicks, but I lacked the follow-up shots. I think if I was able to sustain that, I could have finished the fight in the first round,” he said.
Pacio may have acknowledged his lapses, but he is not dwelling on them. Instead, he plans to address them head-on.
“I need to go back to the drawing board. I want to get back to training right away and resolve the errors I made,” he mentioned.
“I still have a lot to learn, especially since I’m fighting at the highest level in the strawweight division. They say there are levels to this game, and I still need to level up.”