Filipino strawweight Rene Catalan (5-2 1NC) aims to get closer to his championship dreams when he clashes with former two-time One Championship strawweight champion Yoshitaka Naito at One: Reign of Valor, set on March 8 at the Thuwunnna Indoor Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.
The multiple-time wushu world champion and head coach of Catalan Fighting System has been eyeing a rematch with Alex Silva, but instead got an equally dangerous grappler with six submission finishes in Naito (13-2).
Catalan admits his ground skills are not on the level of his opponent but maintains that his championship dream is bigger than any obstacle coming his way. “I am prepared and determined to take out any hurdle to my goal,” said Catalan.
Since losses to former strawweight champions Silva and Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke, Catalan has gone 5-0, with victories over previously undefeated fighters Stefer Rahardian and Adrian Matheis.
But time isn’t much of an ally for the 40-year-old, so expect a well-prepared veteran to come out on fight night. He prides of an improved ground game, thanks in part to Philippine-based Brazilian Luta Livre black belt Afonso Cego, who extended help during his training camp.
Moreover, Catalan has gotten a major push from Philippine and SEA Games wrestling champion Roque Verangel Mana-ay Jr., who has been helping him bolster his takedown defense, which is key to implementing Catalan’s offense.
On the same card is one of Mana-ay Jr.’s students, Jomary Torres, who will look to get back in the win column as she welcomes Heqin Lin to the One Championship cage. The main event features a thrilling welterweight title showdown between proven finishers Zebaztian Kadestam and Georgy Kichigin.