After falling just short of his dream of snagging the ONE Strawweight World Title from Joshua “The Passion” Pacio, #3-ranked contender Rene “The Challenger” Catalan remains energized and focused on another run to the top.
“My goal is to come up and take the top ranking in the division, so expect me to fight strong,” Catalan says.
“I am hungry and I will fight like it so I can reach my goal of being number one again and challenging the champion once more.”
Despite his frustrating loss to Pacio in November 2019, the pride of Santa Barbara, Iloilo, is taking the setback in his stride, confident that he still has a long way to go in his mixed martial arts career.
That might sound crazy given that Catalan will turn 42 this month, but the veteran has only been getting better with age.
Prior to facing Pacio, the Catalan Fighting System founder racked up six consecutive wins in impressive fashion – the exclamation point being his first-round TKO of former divisional king Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito.
“Honestly, I look at myself as a beginner in mixed martial arts,” says Catalan, who previously enjoyed an illustrious wushu career and dabbled in sambo with the Philippines national team.
“I started [MMA] when I was 35, so I started late, but it’s all about discipline and focus – focus on my goal of becoming a World Champion and helping my students reach their dreams.”
Meanwhile, Masunyane has his own dreams of becoming a ONE World Champion.
The 26-year-old South African is undefeated in mixed martial arts and was brilliant in his promotional debut, scoring a unanimous decision win over Ryuto “Dragon Boy” Sawada that showcased his world-class wrestling, explosiveness, and high-octane motor.
After watching that performance, Catalan expects nothing less from the emerging star.
“We saw that his wrestling skill is really, really high,” the Filipino says.
“That’s why we’re on the lookout for his wrestling skills. As soon as we scouted him, we started working on how to defend his wrestling. He’s a young lion and he’s really strong, but with [a long] preparation this time, I know we can bounce back.”
Those preparations are nearly finished, and come Friday, Catalan will have to fight for every inch against Masunyane.
And ultimately, the Filipino knows he will have to overcome difficult challenges like this one to work his way back up the strawweight ladder.
“It’s going to be an explosive fight,” Catalan says. “I know Bokang is really hungry to win this fight, but I am hungry to bounce back as well so I can get another World Title shot.”
If “The Challenger” can ruin the South African’s perfect record, then he’ll certainly be on the right track.