The heroes of ONE: MASTERS OF FATE faced off with their rivals at the event’s Official Open Workout on Tuesday, 5 November, at the Elorde Sports Center in Sucat.
Ahead of their contests at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines, this Friday, 8 November, the local heroes took center stage as they showed off their martial arts skills, before they went nose-to-nose with their opponents and took questions from the world’s media.
Team Lakay’s Pacio is no stranger to the spotlight in his country’s capital – he won the belt at the same venue in April – and he cannot wait for the opportunity to defend the gold for the first time.
“Once again, it is an honor to perform in front of my hometown fans in Manila,” he said. “Putting on a show for all the Filipino people, it’s always something I am excited for.
“Rene Catalan is a worthy challenger. He’s riding a six-bout winning streak and is full of confidence. I am expecting only the best from him. As always, I take this as an opportunity to test my skills.
“He’s a veteran who has been fighting his whole life. I have also been impressed by his recent performances, especially against Yoshitaka Naito. It’s rare that a Filipino will fight another Filipino for a World Title. But I’m glad to be part of history.”
Catalan has a long list of accomplishments in wushu, including a pair of World Titles, but this will be his first shot at gold in mixed martial arts.
Despite the scale of the occasion ahead of the 40-year-old, he showed no sign of nerves.
- Rene Catalan Reveals Why He Decided To Face Joshua Pacio
- Eduard Folayang Excited For Striking Battle In Manila
- Joshua Pacio Explains Why This World Title Defense Will Be Different
“I am super confident heading into this match-up,” he said.
“Becoming a mixed martial arts World Champion has been a goal of mine for a long time. Now, I have the opportunity to fulfill my dream. I know chances like this don’t come often, so I’m giving this everything I have. I don’t plan on leaving the Circle without that belt.
“Joshua Pacio is a young champion, he still has his entire career ahead of him. I respect his skills and his journey up to this point. But once that cage door shuts, it’s go time. No matter who wins, the honor and glory go to the Philippines.”
This Friday‘s event will also see the return of former ONE Lightweight World Champion, Eduard “Landslide” Folayang.
The 35-year-old will aim to get back on the winning track against Mongolia’s Amarsanaa “Spear” Tsogookhuu.
“I am glad to be back competing again,” Folayang said.
“I know my back is against the wall right now. This year hasn’t exactly gone to plan, but I’ve been working hard. I know victory is important this time. I’m facing a hungry opponent from Mongolia who will be looking to beat a big name.
“I’ve been in this situation before and I know what I need to do. I’m a veteran of this sport, and I’ve been doing this for a long time. Still, I feel confident in making another run at the ONE Lightweight World Title. My journey starts anew at home in Manila.”
Another former World Champion will also make his comeback at the Mall Of Asia Arena, as Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio tries to begin his climb back to the top of the flyweight division.
To do that, he will have to beat a man who has defeated him once before up at the bantamweight division – Finland’s Toni “Dynamite” Tauru.
“I’m coming into this next bout with something to prove,” Eustaquio said.
“Things haven’t gone my way this year, and I’ve had a lot of learning opportunities. I can honestly say that I am a better martial artist now than ever before.
“This rematch with Toni Tauru is very important for me, because it’s a win I would like to get back. I want to be known as ‘The King Of The Rematch’ and beating Tauru will prove that. Watch out Manila, Team Lakay is coming!”
“First of all, I’m really excited to be a part of this card,” “The Ilonggo” said. “The Philippines has the most amazing martial arts fans in the world, and I am proud to represent my country on the global stage.
“I’ve put a lot into this camp, and I am fixated on getting the victory. All my hard work will pay off soon. I would like to thank ONE Championship for continuing to give me the opportunity to showcase my skills.
“I feel like I’ve improved a lot since my first fight. Now I’m ready to show the world that I’m a serious contender in this division. Thank you for all the support, Manila!”