ONE Championship: PH's Pacio optimistic of upset win vs. Naito in title bout

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(CNN Philippines, September 21) — It's been two years since Joshua Pacio and Yoshitaka Naito met on the ONE Championship stage.

Pacio suffered a third-round submission loss to the Japanese fighter who then defended his belt for the first time.

But things are different now as the Team Lakay warrior is confident of his chances against Naito. 

"I think I will be able to shock him. I plan to show the champion that I am a completely different fighter this time," Pacio said.

"I have improved so much since we last saw each other, upgrading every skill on all fronts. My striking is more fluid now, my grappling is heavily improved," he added.

Pacio is aware of the capabilities of the reigning king of their division. But with a three-fight winning streak under his name, he warned his opponent of a tough outing.

"He should be prepared for what I will bring to the table. But knowing the champion, I can guarantee he is well-prepared and I have to be ready for the toughest test of my career," he said.

The 22-year-old Pacio holds a professional record of 12-2. On the other hand, Naito owns a 13-1 win-loss slate.

"I plan to mix it up a lot more in this rematch and give him lots of different looks. One thing I can say is that I am a lot more comfortable going to the ground this time," he said.

With the opportunity to bring the title back home, Pacio said he will not waste this chance to get the win.

"I have been preparing for this moment since our first fight. It's still fresh in my mind and I have done everything I can to improve my skills to I can claim victory this time around," he said.

The two will collide for the ONE Championship strawweight belt on September 22 in Jakarta, Indonesia.