Joshua Pacio is well aware of the huge task in front of him on December 3.
The 26-year-old Baguio City native is set to square off against outspoken American opponent Jarred Brooks in the main event of ONE 164, which takes place at the 20,000-capacity SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Metro Manila.
At the same time, the Team Lakay standout puts his intricately-crafted strawweight belt on the line in front of a partisan hometown crowd expecting him to hold up the fort for the Philippines as the lone Filipino titleholder in ONE Championship.
Even with perhaps the biggest bout of his professional mixed martial arts career approaching, Pacio is keeping an even keel by putting his situation in perspective.
“Coming into this fight, I can say that I am not emotionally attached to what I have in front of me in any way, shape, or form,” he told Tiebreaker Times in Filipino. “All that I am carrying right now is my fighting spirit, my quality training, and the thought of winning the fight. That’s it.
“This is the biggest challenge of my career. We all know the caliber of Jarred Brooks. But fights like this one bring out the best in a fighter. This is where a martial artist like yours truly thrives and grows.”
Pacio has been the undisputed kingpin of the 56.7-kilogram weight class for more than three years with three successful world title defenses.
The notion is somewhat justifiable as Brooks has both the experience and track record to boast heading into his cage encounter opposite Pacio on December 3.
Add to that is Brook’s mastery in the art of psychological warfare, which has been well-documented ever since the American directed his career path to the Singapore-based promotion last year.
While “The Passion” acknowledges what “The Monkey God” brings to the table as a competitor, he seems to be more worried about the factors within his control.
“In my mind, I’m not thinking of whoever is the favorite in this title fight. I am not even paying close attention to what the odds say. To be honest, I grew tired of the excitement that Jarred Brooks made me feel with his trash-talking,” Pacio said.
“All I wanted to do is to enter the Circle and show a version of Joshua Pacio you haven’t seen before. I am just plain excited about the fight. Talking about it gives me goosebumps. That’s how excited I am.”
Pacio recognizes the magnitude of a potential victory at the expense of Brooks, who needs no introduction to fans worldwide due to stints in organizations such as the UFC, Bellator, Pancrase, and Rizin Fighting Federation.
“If I beat him, it will surely shock the world. I can already imagine that a lot of people will be surprised. But for me and my team, it won’t be a surprise. Because we all know the hard work and sacrifices we’ve been through for how many months of preparation,” he stated.
Pacio is no stranger to highlight-reel finishes, but for his fourth title defense, he is withholding any prediction other than promising to be a step ahead of Brooks in the upcoming encounter.
“I’m not looking for a knockout, but if there’s an opportunity, I will get it. There are many ways to win the fight, and I am not focused on just one. But what I can assure you is that you will see a different Joshua Pacio,” he vowed.