Reigning ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua “The Passion” Pacio knows all about competing against Japanese athletes.
After all, the 25-year-old has been involved in four World Title matches against the best Japanese stars, splitting both his matches against against #1-ranked contender Yosuke “The Ninja” Saruta and #2-ranked Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito.
Asked what makes the Japanese athletes so tough, Pacio quickly attributed it to how meticulous they are in their craft.
“The work ethic of Japanese people is amazing. For them, training is their whole lives,” Pacio said.
“If they want to pursue mixed martial arts, they’ll be working in the gym, repeating drills. It may not be hard training, but they repeat drills over and over again, and that’s why they’re so tough.”
However, Pacio believes Filipinos have one major advantage over their rivals: their heart.
The Team Lakay star noted that the key to beating them is staying determined, regardless of the pressure their opponents bring.
Pacio thinks their main advantage also happens to be some of the Japanese athletes’ weaknesses.
“For us Filipinos, it’s all about the mindset. We visualize that we can beat them and we go ahead and do it,” he said.
“I don’t want to generalize, but we’ve seen some of their athletes lose their composure when their will is broken. It’s not even about the skills anymore, it’s more on the confidence. You make them uncomfortable, you break their will, they have that tendency.”
While “The Passion” acknowledged the rivalry, he was quick to downplay any tension between the two nations, saying that they benefit from each others’ competitiveness.
“People will look at it as a strong rivalry, and people might think there’s animosity to it, but as martial artists that’s a good thing for us – a very positive thing actually, because when I lost to [Yoshitaka] Naito and [Yosuke] Saruta, I was able to assess myself on the things that I lacked and the things that I needed to work on,” Pacio said.
“So in a sense, they’re pushing us to level-up, and at the same time we’re doing the same thing for them. I’d look at this as a positive rivalry.”
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