Pacio eyes payback over Naito ahead of clash with Amnuaysirichoke

One Championship (file photo)

By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--With his blockbuster match against Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke looming, Joshua Pacio has one thing in mind: getting back at Yoshitaka Naito.

Pacio came close to stealing the One strawweight title away from the Japanese opponent before the latter changed the tides in the third round with a rear-naked choke to retain it.

“I want to fight for the world title again. I was inches away from winning it, but one mistake took that one crowning moment away from me. Since my loss to Naito, vying for the world title once again is my main goal. I have the chance to face Naito again for the belt if I will get the win over Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke on March 11. The stakes are high in this fight,” Pacio stated.

The road to redemption for Pacio begins at One: Warrior Kingdom in Bangkok in a showdown against Amnuaysirichoke, but Pacio's next opponent is not an easy one as well.

Amnuaysirichoke was the inaugural One strawweight champion before Naito stepped in and took the belt from him in front of his home country crowd last year.

[Related Story: Naito takes One belt from Amnuaysirichoke in inaugural Thai event; Batolbatol falls to Christian Lee]

“Dejdamrong is a former champion. For sure, he wants to face Naito again and reclaim the belt. On the other hand, I have the same goal in mind. There’s no doubt that the winner of this fight will face Naito. It’s a must-win bout for both of us,” Pacio said.

Despite the expected stipulations for this fight, Pacio said that he will let the matchmakers take charge on whether Naito is up next for either of them or not.

“I am not in a hurry. I will honor and respect One Championship’s decision if they will not give me another title shot after this fight,” he said. “I will always be grateful with what I have. I have no problem if I need to prove once again that I deserve a championship opportunity.”

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno