ONE Championship: Rene Catalan accepted title fight to stand up for himself and his team

Santino Honasan on Nov 08, 2019 09:38 AM
Rene Catalan accepted title fight to stand up for himself
“Ngayon, hindi na maganda kasi yung throw sa amin, especially sa akin at sa team ko, hindi na maganda yung pambubully,” - Rene Catalan on why he decided to accept title fight against Joshua Pacio (Photo courtesy of ONE Championship)

Filipino strawweights Rene “D’Challenger” Catalan and Joshua “The Passion” Pacio have been on a collision course for quite some time now.

Pacio, the 23-year old rising star from Team Lakay captured the ONE Strawweight World Championship in September of 2018, lose the title in January of 2019, and then win it back in April of the same year. 

Throughout that time, the 40-year old Catalan was able to keep his impressive winning streak going, handing former two-time champion Yoshitaka Naito a massive beating to extend said streak to six straight. 

Now, the two Pinoy strawweights finally come face to face for the ONE Strawweight World Championship the main event of ONE: Masters of Fate this Friday, November 8th at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Philippines.

While the Catalan versus Pacio matchup has always been an intriguing one, many believed that they would never be able to see it since the former had always been adamant in his refusal to face a fellow Filipino, even if a world title was on the line. 

So when the all-Filipino title bout was announced, the question in the minds of many is what made Catalan change his mind. 

“Actually, last time, sinabihan ako ng [ONE Championship] for August 2, pero sabi ko ayaw kong mag-compete laban sa kapwa ko Pinoy, kasi ilang dekada na akong nagdadala ng bandila ng Pilipinas,” Catalan explained during the ONE: Masters of Fate Open Workouts, Tuesday.

According to the former SEA Games and Asian Games Wushu Gold Medalist, taking the title bout was about standing up for himself and his team, especially after hearing some negative comments from fans. 

“Ngayon, hindi na maganda kasi yung throw sa amin, especially sa akin at sa team ko, hindi na maganda yung pambubully,” Catalan revealed. ”Wala kaming halong inggit, pero medyo hindi na maganda yung pag-tapon ng mga fans sa akin at marami pang mga nagpe-pray na sana ma-injury ako, o matalo, at lalo na sa team ko na hindi maganda yung mga sinasabi, kaya nag-trigger din sa akin.”

In spite of the negative remarks thrown at him and his team by fans, Catalan still has nothing but absolute respect for the La Trinidad, Benguet-based mixed martial arts stable and sees them as an inspiration to do even better in the sport. 

“Kaya even though, we idolize Team Lakay and kung ano yung narating nila, kumbaga wala kaming inggit, even though sa mga athletes ko sinasabi ko na we need to look up to Team Lakay kasi alam natin kung gaano sila nag-hirap bago nila marating.” 

“Sabi ko gayahin natin yung discipline, kung ano yung narating nila, i-look up to natin para marating din natin sila,” Catalan added. 

For their part, Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao maintains that there is no bad blood between his side and the Catalan Fighting System side.

Friday night, Catalan will look to silence those critics and bring home the ONE Strawweight World Championship.


Catch ONE: MASTERS OF FATE live on Friday, November 8th LIVE on ABS-CBN S+A channel 23 on LIVESTREAM via the ABS-CBN Sports Facebook Page and on iWant starting at 8:30 PM.

ONE: MASTERS OF FATE will also air on Sunday's Best on November 17th, Sunday, at 11:30 PM with local commentatry from Anton Roxas and Theo Castillo

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