The main event for ONE 158 is official.
Strawweight champion Joshua Pacio will defend his title against Jarred Brooks on June 3 at ONE 158, Sports Illustrated has learned.
A two-time strawweight champion, Pacio (20-3) has made three defenses in this title chase, most recently last September in a rubber match against rival Yosuke Sarita. Pacio will be challenged by five-game winning streak Brooks (19-2, 1 NC), which includes his three-game winning streak since joining ONE.
“To challenge for the title in the best organization in the world is a dream come true,” said Brooks. “I’ve thought and slept and breathed the fighting game all my life. And winning the belt would mean more than life itself.
Pacio is undeniably the reigning 125-pound king of ONE. He has won eight of his last nine games, having suffered just one loss in the last four and a half years. Part of the famous Lakay team, Pacio is importing a new mastery of the art of wushu style into mixed martial arts. With ONE expected to see rapid growth once its new streaming deal begins shortly with Amazon Prime, 26-year-old Pacio is among those in the company with stardom potential.
“I’m the champion and ready to defend,” Pacio said. “I know Jarred will come as strong as he is, as ready as he is, but I’m going to use all the tools we’ve been working on. My team and I are ready to stay champions.
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ONE Vice President Rich Franklin views this strawweight title fight as a contest that will embody the fighting spirit ingrained in the ONE championship circle. The title fight provides a must-see attraction for ONE 158, especially since Pacio and Brooks fight such dynamic and captivating styles.
“These two guys have the gas for five rounds, and this one is personal,” Franklin said. “Brooks has had victories over some of the toughest in the division, including Pacio’s teammate Lito Adiwang, and his aggressive style is matched by the trashy lyrics of the pre-fight rap. He could become ‘The Lakay Killer’, or Pacio could end all the Brooks chatter.
More than a title, ONE 158 is a testing ground to see who will represent the company in its new field on Amazon. It’s a long-awaited opportunity for Brooks, 29, who competed for two years in the UFC in the flyweight division. His most notable fight was a hotly contested split decision loss to Deiveson Figueiredo, who is now the reigning UFC flyweight champion, in October 2017. The loss to Figueiredo was followed by a maddening fight against Jose Torres in June 2018, where Brooks remained in full control until midway through round two when he was knocked out attempting a slam. He beat Roberto Sanchez in September, but wasn’t released from the UFC until two months later. This title fight is a chance to rise to a whole new level of success in MMA.
“Although I think Joshua has very good ability, I don’t think he has the same heart as me,” Brooks said. “He doesn’t have the same will or the same determination to win as I do.
“My prediction is that I will submit Pacio in the first or second round. I will be the next ONE strawweight world champion.
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