Rene Catalan Mirroring Compatriot Eduard Folayang’s Path To World Title Gold
ABS-CBN Sports on Feb 13, 2019 01:32 PM
"I see him as someone blocking my goal of fighting for the world title; My goal is to remove him in my path." - Rene Catalan
The success of Team Lakay and its contributions to the sport of mixed martial arts in the Philippines is something that has been told, and will be re-told, for a long time. After all, winning four ONE World Titles in one year is a feat that would be hard to topple.
However, not all Filipinos who are successful in ONE Championship come from the fabled gym in Benguet.
One of nation’s athletes who has forged his own path is Rene “The Challenger” Catalan.
"Team Lakay has been here for a long time. It's only right to say that they are the top team from the Philippines,” said Catalan, who spearheads Catalan Fighting System in Makati City. “I have nothing but respect for them."
Like Team Lakay, the members of Catalan Fighting System struggled to find their footing in The Home Of Martial Arts at first. But now, each of the members is hitting their stride in their respective weight classes.
For instance, Catalan, an Asian Games wushu gold medalist, went winless in his first three mixed martial arts encounters in ONE. But then, he won his next five bouts and now, he is viewed as a legitimate contender for the ONE Strawweight World Championship, which is currently held by Yosuke Saruta.
Catalan, who is scheduled to face former titleholder Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito at ONE: REIGN OF VALOR on 8 March, is now a stone’s throw away from getting his title shot.
A victory over the Japanese grappler in Yangon, Myanmar could assure him an opportunity to challenge for the gold.
"I see this fight ending by unanimous decision or by knockout," the Filipino quipped.
"I see him as someone blocking my goal of fighting for the World Title, and my goal is to remove him [from] my path."
The 40-year-old slugger, which hails from Iloilo City, is using the rise of Team Lakay — particularly ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang’s — as his main motivation to zoom to the top.
"The likes of Eduard Folayang had to go through many heartbreaks before reaching his current status,” Catalan explained.
“For our team, we also need more experience to reach that level someday. We just need time and determination to reach the level of Team Lakay."
Now, his entire focus is on Naito, knowing well that a win here would be the realization not only of his dream, but his team's goals as well/
"I see this fight ending by unanimous decision or by knockout," Catalan said. "I see him as someone blocking my goal of fighting for the world title; My goal is to remove him in my path."