MMA: Rene Catalan wants another run at ONE strawweight title


Posted at Nov 09 2021 01:17 PM

Rene "The Challenger" Catalan. Handout photo

MANILA, Philippines -- Rene "The Challenger" Catalan will always have mixed emotions facing a fellow Filipino inside the ONE Circle.

When he faced ONE strawweight champion Joshua Pacio at ONE: Masters of Fate in November 2019, Catalan admittedly felt troubled in his desire to win a world title at the expense of a compatriot.

"My heart wasn't there, especially that I'm facing a fellow Filipino. I guess it's always going to be there, that you feel half-hearted because we all want to bring glory to the country but we have to face each other," he said.

Catalan said he still gave it all, knowing that at 41 years old, his time fighting is already fast approaching its twilight.

"I still aimed to win that match because it really was my dream to win a world championship before I retire," stated the man behind the Catalan Fighting System.

The veteran fell short, however, as Pacio locked in an arm triangle choke in the second round to force Catalan to tap.

Even as he acknowledges that his time as a fighter is coming to a close, Catalan is still determined to make another run at the world title and is ready for what should be a tough road back into becoming a contender.

All the fighters in the current strawweight rankings are younger than Catalan; the closest to the Filipino veteran in age is no. 1 contender Yosuke "The Ninja" Saruta, who is already 34.

The rest are just nearing the primes of their careers, with the current champion Pacio only 25 years old, no. 2 Bokang "Little Giant" Masunyane 27, no. 3 Hiroba Minowa 22, and no. 5 Lito "Thunder Kid" Adiwang just 28.

Rather than viewing his age as a disadvantage, Catalan is looking at it more as an edge as he banks on his experience in his next fights.

"Yes, I am a veteran athlete and I know I'm about to face young fighters. I know that in combat sports, people will always look at the younger fighter as the one who holds the advantage," said Catalan.

"But there's no question on my drive, my fire to be considered a contender again," he added. "Like I said, I'm motivated to challenge for the belt again and become the world champion before I retire."

Catalan looks to begin that climb anew when he faces former ONE Strawweight World Champion Alex "Little Rock" Silva at ONE: NEXTGEN III on 26 November in Singapore.