Catalan ascent continues with first-round TKO win

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Rene Catalan
Filipino strawweight fighter Rene Catalan (L) won his sixth straight fight in ONE Championship after defeating Yoshistaka Naito in the first round of their battle at “ONE” Reign of Valor” on Friday in Myanmar. -- ONE CHAMPIONSHIP

FORTY-YEAR-OLD Filipino mixed martial arts fighter Rene “D’ Challenger” Catalan continued with his impressive ascent in ONE Championship, winning his sixth straight fight by way of an impressive first-round technical knockout victory over former world strawweight champion Yoshistaka “Nobita” Naito on Friday in Myanmar.

One of the hottest fighters in the 125-lb division entering the contest, Mr. Catalan (6-2) ensured his charge forward stayed by dominating the former Japanese champion right at the onset en route to the big win at “ONE: Reign of Valor” that fortified his claim for a shot at the title which is currently held by Yosuke “Tobizaru” Saruta of Japan.

Mr. Catalan never allowed Mr. Naito to get his game going, foiling the latter’s attempts to dictate the fight from the ground.

When the Filipino got the leverage he wanted he did not let go of the opportunity, unloading a barrage of strikes that overwhelmed his opponent before the referee stopped the fight at the 4:32 mark of the opening round.

The win was a direct result of Mr. Catalan’s solid work in training in the lead-up to the fight that saw him focusing on his takedown defense.

“This is definitely one of the best camps I had, which is just in time for the most important match of my career. For the past few months, I’ve been focusing on my ground game, especially with my takedown defense with the help of our Philippine and SEA Games (Southeast Asian Games) wrestling champ Roque Verangel Mana-ay Jr.,” Mr. Catalan said of his preparation against Mr. Naito.

Meanwhile, not so fortunate in Yangon was Jomary “The Zamboanginian Fighter” Torres (4-3), who slumped to her third defeat in a row by falling to Chinese atomweight Lin Heqin by first-round submission (triangle choke).

In the main event, Swede Zebaztian “The Bandit” Kadestam remained as the ONE world welterweight champion by making short work of challenger Georgiy “Knight” Kichigin of Kazakhstan in their title clash.

Mr. Kadestam won by way of technical knockout in the second round after his opponent’s corner called for a stoppage after their man absorbed a solid elbow in the second round from the Swede that led Mr. Kichigin dazed and was ruled unable to go after. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo