By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
Welcome back, Joshua Pacio.
After a 10-month hiatus in the ONE Fighting Championship stage, the former strawweight king shook off ring rust to score a unanimous decision victory over Mansur Malachiev last October 7, 2023, held at the Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.
The victory not only helped Pacio redeem himself against that loss to Jarred Brooks last year but also tainted Malachiev’s win-loss record for the first time in his ONE professional career.
Pacio showed an improved ground defense and a more fluid stand-up fight against Malachiev, two things that went lacking during his loss against Brooks.
The Filipino MMA fighter opened the first round with a series of snappy jabs and vicious leg kicks that helped him pile up the score.
However, Malachiev retaliated with a takedown in the closing seconds of the round in an attempt to salvage the opening five minutes of action.
The action became more intense as both fighters exchanged combinations in the middle of the ring but it was Pacio who landed more significant strikes.
In the final minute of the round, Pacio took control of the match’s pace as he tagged Malachiev with a series of hooks to end the second period on a high note.
Malachiev countered with an early takedown in the opening seconds of the final round but Pacio was able to hold his ground to avoid further damage.
Pacio attempted two guillotine chokes in the final round, aiming to submit Malachiev to score an emphatic win but the Filipino had no time left to execute.
With the win, Pacio boosted his rank in the strawweight division and is looking to reclaim his lost championship belt.
Pacio improved to 20-4 after the victory while Malachiev fell to 11 wins and a loss, tasting his first-ever defeat since entering the ONE promotion nine years ago.