BAGUIO CITY – ONE Fighting Championship strawweight champion Joshua Pacio is the top fighter in his weight division, while four other fighters remain among the top mix martial arts fighters but former champion Eduard Folayang is nowhere in the list.
ONE’s latest ranking released this week show Pacio as the only top player in his weight division from Team Lakay.
Folayang, Geje Eustaquio, Honorio Banario as well as Kevin Belingon as top athletes in lightweight, flyweight, featherweight and bantamweight divisions are no longer on the list.
Belingon, a former bantamweight king, remains to be the top challenger in the weight division ruled by long-time champion and rival Bibiano Fernandes, who defeated him in their last two fights that cost him the crown.
Behind Belingon are Shoko Sato, Yusup Saadulaevm Shuya Kamikubo, and Daichi Takenaka.
Pacio is the top strawweight athlete, thanks to two successful title defense after losing the belt last year.
Behind him are former champions Yosuke Saruta, Yoshitaka Naito, Olympic gold medalist for wushu Rene Catalan, former champion Alex Silva and the fast-rising and fellow Team Lakay member Lito Adiwang.
Catalan and Silva were the last two opponents of Pacio whom he beat to retain the belt which he wrested back from Saruta on April 12 last year.
It was a rematch after losing the belt to the same guy on January 19 last year.
Pacio completed Team Lakay’s four-weight sweep in ONE on September 22, 2018, by beating then-champion Yoshitaka Naito to join Belingon, Eustaquio, and Folayang.
Flyweight king Adriano Moraes leads Grand Prix winner Demetrius Johnson, with Danny Kingad of Team Lakay as the second seed.
Kingad lost to the Mighty Mite Johnson in the Grand Prix semi-finals.
Former champion Kairat Akhmetov is the third seed, followed by Yuya Wakamatsu and Reece McClaren, the Fil-Aussie nicknamed Lightning.
Former champion Eustaquio failed to join the elite six.
Martin Nguyen remains the top featherweight player as the champion, who once carried the lightweight belt after beating Folayang.
The second to third seeds are Koyomi Matsushima, Than Le, Tetsuya Yamada, and Garry Tonon.
Out of the list is inaugural ONE feather champion Banario, who ended his four-game losing streak after beating Shannon Wiratchai in the first closed-door fight last February 28 in Singapore, which was also the last staged ONE event.
While seeded first in the featherweight division, Christian Lee reigns supreme in the lightweight division after wresting the title from legend and former three-time champion Shinya Aoki, who is now the fifth seed.
In between are Iuri Lapicus, Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev, Pieter Buist, and Timofey Nastyukhin.
Folayang is out of the list after falling to Buist in his last outing last January.
Southeast Asian Games kickboxing gold medalist Gina Iniong-Araos is the fifth seed in the women’s atomweight division which is dominated by long-time queen Angela Lee.
Fellow Filipina Denice Zamboanga is the top seed, followed by Meng Bo and Mei Yamaguchi.
The ranking was released for select weight divisions across the MMA, muay Thai, and kickboxing disciplines.
“The rankings will bring more clarity and transparency for our athletes as they chase their dreams for a world championship,” said ONE chairman Chatri Sitdoyodtong in a statement.
The ranking was determined by a panel that included media, industry experts, ONE Championship vice presidents Rich Franklin and former UFC champion Misha Tate.
The rankings were determined after each event, weighing wins and losses, recent performances and quality of opponents.
Team Lakay members are busy training at the Team Lakay gym in Pico, La Trinidad, Benguet even as they joined forces with ACT-CIS Party-list Rep. Eric Go Yap, also the Benguet caretaker congressman, in distributing relief goods to Benguet residents. (PNA)