Former ONE strawweight champion Alex “Little Rock” Silva and former title contender Rene “The Challenger” Catalan will rekindle a rivalry that started eight years ago.
While much has changed since their first fight, which Silva won by first-round armbar, the Brazilian believes one thing remains the same – he’s always going to have better grappling than the Filipino.
“Both of us are completely different fighters now,” said Silva ahead of the previously recorded ONE: NextGen III, which airs this Friday from the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
“In my mind, we were kind of like white belts in MMA when we first fought, but we’ve improved a lot. Of course, he’s improved a lot. His grappling, his wrestling, and his striking are outstanding. But I’ve improved a lot, too – I can strike now.
“[However,] even if he’s improved his grappling, I don’t think he’s up to par with my grappling. I have been watching him for a long time.”
In their initial match, Silva easily submitted Catalan. However, after that match, the two became pillars of the ONE strawweight division, with Silva going on to win the ONE strawweight title and Catalan challenging current champion Joshua “The Passion” Pacio.
Silva knows that beating Catalan won’t be as easy as the last time, but he’s much more confident coming into this bout, knowing that he can strike with the decorated wushu practitioner.
“I’m very confident in my skills and my grappling skills,” the Brazilian said.
“Like I said, back to when we fought for the first time, I couldn’t strike well. I couldn’t even strike. I [was] just like 100 percent pure grappling. Now, I feel that I can stay more on the feet if I have to and use my grappling.”
At the end of the day, Silva believes that while both of them have improved, the result will remain the same.
“I think God knows what’s going to happen,” Silva said. “But I predict a submission in the second round.”