Ahead of showdown versus Matheis, Rene Catalan sets sight at Naito's One strawweight belt

One Championship (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

PUERTO PRINCESA—He may be facing Adrian Matheis next, but Filipino veteran Rene Catalan is already aiming for the big bacon, that is, the One strawweight championship being held currently by Yoshitaka Naito.

“Every fighter dreams to become a world champion. I really hope that One Championship will give me an opportunity to fight for the title in the future. This fight might be the door to a world title fight. Let us all hope for the best,” he said.

With Matheis also being eyed as a potential challenger for Naito, his clash with Catalan at One: Quest for Power at the Jakarta Convention Center next Saturday could serve as a title eliminator.

Both fighters came from victories last year, which makes the match a must-watch.

Matheis ruled the One: Titles and Titans strawweight tournament last August, while Catalan came off a lopsided decision win over China’s Zhang You Liang the month after, and for the latter, the win over his Chinese foe is just Step 1.

“My win in September is the first step. There’s more to come. I will not stop winning until I get the One World strawweight championship belt,” Catalan vowed.

The potential stipulations of the fight made Catalan more eager to silence the Indonesian crowd rooting for their hero in their bout.

“I want that opportunity to fight for the title. If he wins, he might get the title shot that I seek. You will never know if your next fight will be a title fight. That’s why you have to give your best in every fight,” he stated.

While his striking prowess is expected once more, Catalan added another facet to his game that could give him an advantage.

“For this fight, I added more emphasis to my ground game. Even though I am coming off a win, I shouldn’t be complacent. I trained with the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners in the country to hone my grappling skills,” he bared.

Still, Catalan thinks he has the upper hand in the stand-up department.

“I still believe that my striking is better than his stand-up game. I am very comfortable in that aspect. If he wants to strike with me, it will be my pleasure,” he continued.

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