ONE strawweight champion Joshua Pacio (Photo from ONE Championship)

Team Lakay’s Joshua Pacio was named among Black Belt Magazine’s Top 10 mixed martial arts fighters in the world.

Pacio, the reigning ONE Championship strawweight king, was the lone Filipino to barge into the list, joining the likes of MMA stars Jon Jones, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Amanda Nunes, Israel Adesanya, Stipe Miocic, Demetrious Johnson, Adriano Moraes and the Lee siblings — Angela and Christian.

In no particular order, Black Belt Magazine described the man known as “The Passion” as “one of the most exciting athletes in the sport today.”

“Each time the Filipino steps inside the ONE Circle, he is looking to add another finish to his impressive highlights reel as he continues to help grow the sport in The Philippines with each and every performance,” wrote Black Belt Magazine.

“The Team Lakay representative is not just building his legacy in ONE, but in his homeland, as he becomes a bigger star and inspires a new generation.”

Just last month, the 24-year-old Pacio, who will celebrate his birthday in January, landed No. 24 in ESPN’s Under-25 list of mixed martial arts fighters of 2020.

The two-time strawweight champion holds a 17-3 record, only losing once in the last three years.

Pacio first took the strawweight title after a unanimous decision win against Japanese foe Yoshitaka Naito in September 2018. But Yosuke Saruta, another Japanese fighter, stripped off Pacio’s belt after a split decision win in January 2019.

Three months later in April, the Team Lakay stalwart returned strong and finished Saruta with a lethal head kick to reclaim the strawweight throne.

Since then, the Igorot warrior rode on a three-win match streak including back-to-back title defense against compatriot Rene Catalan (arm-triangle choke) in November 2019 and Alex Silva (split decision) January this year.

Black Belt is an American magazine, considered as one of the oldest publications covering martial arts and combat sports, based in Valencia, California. 

Source: Manila Bulletin (