Balart knows the weight class is stacked with world-class athletes, and a number of competitors could potentially slide into the strawweight division’s top-rive rankings with a highlight-reel victory. That includes his past rival.
“El Gladiador” said:
“I think every opponent fighting in ONE is a top-level fighter, including Catalan. I really believe he’s an elite fighter.”
Given the Cuban’s history with Catalan, Balart feels justified including the Filipino in that conversation.
The 4-foot-11 beast originally squared off against Catalan at ONE: MASTER OF FATE in November 2019. To his credit, Balart impressed with his boxing, takedowns, and clinch work, but ultimately, “The Ilonggo” knocked him out with a picture-perfect head kick at the tail end of the second round.
Balart admits he experienced some issues leading up to the matchup, including a knee injury he suffered in training camp. Still, “El Gladiador” was fit enough to compete and performed admirably.
“Everything can happen in an MMA fight. I have no excuses for that loss. But to be honest, a lot of things happened to me prior to the fight that might have affected my performance and the result of that bout. I understand that´s my responsibility.”Gustavo Balart told ONE Championship.
Could Gustavo Balart Rematch Robin Catalan?
Robin Catalan recently expressed confidence in his ability to finish Elipitua Siregar at ONE 157, and he also said that he wanted to prove to the critics that his knockout victory over Gustavo Balart was “no fluke.”
The Cuban heard the Filipino’s words and he sounds more than willing to run it back, just so he can redeem himself and prove that it was indeed a fluke.
“He can say anything he wants. His victory against me was just a lucky shot because, as I said before, many things happened to me leading up to that fight. I was easily dominating that fight. Yes, I’d like to have the chance to fight him again. It would be a pleasure to punch his face, being my best version in all aspects. I’d like to show the world that his victory over me was just [due to] a lucky shot.”
There seems to be a catch, though.
Because of that, he feels closer than ever to a World Title opportunity and would rather vie for a crack at the gold first.
“I am focused on the ONE Championship belt, and a fight against Catalan would push me away from the main goal because he is not one of the best fighters in my division. It would be interesting to fight him, but only after I achieve my goal of being the king of the division. I would grant him the rematch (laughs) because, in my head, I won that fight against Catalan.”Gustavo Balart told ONE Championship.