TOOK a while to finally get his shot at the world strawweight title in ONE Championship, veteran Rene “D’ Challenger” Catalan is grateful for the opportunity just as he vowed to give his best to fulfill his goal of being a champion in Asia’s largest mixed martial arts promotion.
Facing off with compatriot and reigning champ Joshua “The Passion” Pacio in the headlining fight for “ONE: Masters of Fate” on Nov. 8 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Mr. Catalan, 40, hopes to seize the strawweight title to add to his successful MMA career.
“I’m one hundred percent focused on getting this belt. It’s every fighter’s dream to become a world champion. I’m hungry and determined to win the title,” said Mr. Catalan (6-2) of his mindset heading into the title fight.
The Catalan Fighting System top man is currently riding a six-fight winning streak in ONE, enough to be given a shot at the Mr. Pacio’s gold.
Mr. Catalan most recently defeated Yoshitaka Naito of Japan by technical knockout in the first round (punches) in March in Malaysia.
Against the younger Pacio (14-3), Mr. Catalan recognizes that the odds are against him but is not getting down on himself knowing that he has what it takes to fight and deliver.
“Joshua Pacio is only human. Just like every other fighter, he has his strengths and weaknesses. We’re going to try and deal with that in the fight. It all comes down to the game plan we have heading into this. It’s going to be an exciting contest,” said Mr. Catalan.
Adding that he sees the match not going the distance but nonetheless is ready to go all the way.
“Given our styles, it’s not hard to predict this fight will end within the distance. But I’m training and preparing to go all five rounds to win a decision if necessary. As a fighter, you have to be prepared for all scenarios.”
ONE: Masters of Fate is the fourth live event of ONE Championship in the Philippines for this year.
It will also feature the return to the ONE Circle of former Filipino world champions Eduard “Landslide” Folayang and Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo