After Joshua Pacio’s successful reclamation of the strawweight championship belt at ONE: Roots of Honor from Japanese foe Yosuke Saruta, Team Lakay continued to solidify its fierce reputation as masters of rematches and defeating opponents following a loss.
Pacio’s retrieval of the title he held then lost, and reversal of fate against Saruta was not his first. The Team Lakay combatant previously had an ongoing rivalry with another Japanese fighter, Yoshitaka Naito, who he also defeated in a championship rematch.
‘Passion’ and ‘Nobita’ squared off for the first time in 2016 during ONE: State of Warriors, where Naito submitted the Filipino youngster in the third round to retain his strawweight crown. It would take two years for Pacio to receive another shot at his Japanese rival, and he made sure to take full advantage of the opportunity by dominating Naito in a unanimous decision victory to sit atop the weight class.
Among Team Lakay’s prestigious stable of athletes, it is Geje Eustaquio who has the most rematch victories with three. He first avenged a defeat against Thai fighter Anatpong Bunrad May 2017 via split decision after suffering a setback in the same fashion during the two’s first meeting April 2015.
Eustaquio then evened his head-to-head record against Kazakhstan’s Kairat Ahkmetov in convincing style as he bagged a unanimous decision win January 2018 to capture ONE’s interim flyweight championship. Ahkmetov had escaped a close split decision result in the first encounter back in September 2017.
Most recently, “Gravity” was crowned the ONE flyweight champion after a tightly contested second bout against Brazil’s Adriano Moraes June 2018 following a failed attempt in their first encounter which dates back to September 2014, where Eustaquio was submitted in the second round by a guillotine choke. Unfortunately though for Eustaquio, his back-and-forth with Moraes continued when he lost the title again in the trilogy bout by unanimous decision.
Bantamweight fighter Kevin Belingon has also had his share of rematches which further bolsters Team Lakay’s mastery reputation.
In a November 2018 rematch against then champion Bibiano Fernandes, “The Silencer” defeated the Brazilian fighter via split decision to become the new ONE bantamweight title holder. The two had their first duel January 2016, where Fernandes successfully orchestrated a first round kimura submission over the Filipino.
However, in their trilogy bout at ONE: A New Era, Belingon shockingly lost the belt back to Fernandes prematurely due to disqualification from illegal elbows in the third round. The nature of the result immediately prompted a fourth match between the two rivals.
If the streak of bounce back wins against the same opponent following a loss was to provide any indication on what to expect, then Belingon should hold an advantage over Fernandes in their upcoming bout to perhaps settle the score once and for all.
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