ONE strawweight world champion Joshua "The Passion" Pacio will be keeping a close eye on the promotion's upcoming event.
That's because he expects to face the winner of a high-stakes MMA showdown between the division's top contenders.
This Friday, No. 1-ranked strawweight contender Bokang "Little Giant" Masunyane (8-0) will meet No. 2-ranked Jarred "The Monkey God" Brooks (18-2, 1 NC) in a strawweight world title eliminator at "ONE: Eersel vs. Sadikovic."
Pacio knows the two grapplers have dominated the competition in ONE Championship's talent-rich weight class, but this time, he feels the duo will have a closely contested battle.
"Both guys are amazing, and they have the ability to finish anyone, but I think this one's headed to a decision. They come from the same background, and I expect this to be a grind in the wrestling department," he said.
The Filipino kingpin, however, is leaning toward "The Monkey God." Though Masunyane's explosiveness and skills are impressive, Pacio believes the American's veteran savvy will pay dividends.
"One advantage that Brooks has is his experience. He's been competing at the top level for the longest time. Bokang is top-level as well, but Brooks' experience in competing there for a long time is his edge," Pacio said.
"This is hard, but I'm looking at the experience of Brooks, and given that it's only a three-rounder, I'm siding more with Brooks by decision, mainly because of that experience."
Brooks has been unstoppable since joining ONE Championship.
In his promotional debut last November, "The Monkey God" submitted Pacio's teammate, Lito "Thunder Kid" Adiwang, via arm-triangle choke in the second round. He followed that up with a clear-cut unanimous decision victory over Shooto Champion Hiroba Minowa in January.
The American's performances, as well as his brash attitude, have lit up the division, and Pacio has paid close attention. He's aware of the threat that "The Monkey God" poses, but the 26-year-old Filipino is also confident in his own skill set.
"If I face Brooks now, he'll be one of my toughest fights. But I'm a champion for a reason. I've worked hard for this, my team has worked hard for this, so I'm not going to give this up easily," the strawweight king said.
Pacio, however, isn't writing off the man who will be standing across from Brooks in the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday.
Although "The Passion" views the American as the favorite, he believes Masunyane could surprise and pull out the win.