ONE World Strawweight Champion Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito (12-0) fought off a spirited challenge by 20 year old Joshua Pacio, stopping the Team Lakay standout in three rounds to retain his crown, Friday evening at the Thuwunna National Indoor Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.
The Baguio City-native was able to have his way with the Japanese warrior in the early-goings of the bout as he successfully stuffed the world champion’s takedown attempts. On the stand-up, Pacio was able to have his way as he peppered Naito with crisp combinations.
Pacio’s flurry continued in the second round, dropping Naito with a solid right. With his back against the well, Naito continuously pushed to take the Filipino down. It proved to be fruitful in the third round as he was able to take Pacio down once more and immediately gaining his back. Once he secured the grapevine, he then sunk a tight rear naked choke for the tapout with 1:33 in the third canto.
“Definitely the happiest and the best fight ever. This is definitely my best fight. I just did what I came to do. I showed Myanmar what I can do, all my skills, and I won,” the 32 year old said after making his first title defense.
Pacio drops to 12-1 after the loss but the future still looks bright as he has yet to hit his prime years.
In the undercard, Pacio’s teammate Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon (14-5) returned to the win column, taking a unanimous decision win over Tajikistan mixed martial arts prospect Muin Gafurov (10-2).
Throughout the bout, Belingon landed a series of inside and outside leg kicks, slowing down the younger Gafurov as the bout wore on.
Every time Gafurov moved in to try and close the gap, setting up takedowns with his striking, Belingon would lay back and counter with great accuracy. The Filipino’s lightning quick strikes were on full display, as Belingon proved to be the busier fighter in the 15 minute affair.
In the end, all three judges rewarded Belingon’s efforts with a win across the scorecards.
This was the Filipino’s first win since December of 2014. He made an unsuccessful bid to take home the ONE World Bantamweight Championship last January.