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Pacio KOs Saruta, reclaims ONE strawweight belt

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MANILA — Joshua Pacio took back the ONE strawweight title with a knockout win against erstwhile champion Yosuke Saruta in their rematch at ONE: Roots of Honor at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay on Friday night.

Despite some threats from the Japanese fighter, Pacio never wavered and sent him down for good to become a two-time champ.

Saruta had his moments in Round 1 when he had an early takedown attempt and a right straight punch that knocked Pacio down.

However, the pace slowed down in the next two rounds, and Pacio began connecting on crisp strikes that forced some swelling around Saruta’s right eye.

The breakthrough came at the 2:43 mark of Round 4, when Pacio connected on a high knee that knocked Saruta out, forcing Referee Kemp Cheng to stop the contest.

Pacio joins fellow Team Lakay fighter Eduard Folayang as Filipino two-time champs of ONE Championship.

On the other hand, Tatsumitsu Wada survived a gallant stand against Gustavo Balart in the quarterfinals of the ONE Flyweight Grand Prix.

The Cuban fighter turned to be game despite being a late replacement for Ivanildo Delfino of Brazil, opening a cut near the Japanese pug’s left eye in Round 1.

Wada, however, slowly recovered in Round 2 and then opened a cut near Balart’s right eye. He then held off a late takedown attempt from Balart en route to the unanimous decision win.

Wada will face former Ultimate Fighting Championship star Demetrious Johnson in the semifinals. (PNA)