Rene “The Challenger” Catalan is hoping to climb the ladder once more and earn a second shot at the ONE Strawweight World Title.
The #3-ranked strawweight contender, who had his six-bout win streak snapped by Joshua “The Passion” Pacio in his previous attempt to claim the belt last November, is hoping to prove himself worthy of another crack at the gold by toppling his rivals in the division’s official rankings.
“I may be a bit older now, but make no mistake about it, I am still gunning for my dreams of one day winning a World Title,” the 41-year-old mixed martial artist says.
“I am willing to face anyone in order to get there, though I hope to avoid my fellow Filipinos.”
With that statement, it’s clear Catalan would prefer not to face #5-ranked compatriot Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang.
However, that still leaves three other men directly in his crosshairs: #1-ranked strawweight contender Yosuke “The Ninja” Saruta, #2-ranked contender Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito, and #4-ranked contender Alex “Little Rock” Silva.
A match against Saruta, the former ONE Strawweight World Champion, would certainly be interesting. Aside from Adiwang, the Japanese star is the only ranked contender Catalan has not faced yet.
“Saruta is a very good athlete. He is really strong,” the veteran says.
“I believe that if he did not make a mistake against Joshua Pacio (in April 2019), he would have defeated him again [and retained the ONE Strawweight World Title].”
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Meanwhile, Catalan is also ready for a rematch with either Naito or Silva.
Silva made quick work of Catalan, winning via armbar in the first round, but the Iloilo City native knows he is a completely different competitor now.
“If I face Silva again, I have to really focus on ground defense,” Catalan says. “It’s all about good preparation when facing someone as dangerous as him.”
When it comes to the #2-ranked contender, things are a little different.
“He will definitely work double-time against me. He can certainly adjust like what he did against Alex Silva,” the Filipino says.
“I also expect him to polish his striking, and maybe play with me a bit on the feet before trying to impose his will on the ground.”
When asked which of the fellow contenders he expects to face next, Catalan avoided calling anyone out, but he does believe it would be logical to face Naito.
“I need to beat the #2 guy first so I have a chance to vie for #1,” the Filipino says.
“Saruta is currently the #1 contender. I wouldn’t be surprised if he faces Pacio again, so it’s very possible for me to get a rematch with Naito.”