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Rene Catalan clarifies plans to vie for ONE strawweight title anew

Rene Catalan reiterated that he does not want to fight a Filipino again in his quest to claim the ONE strawweight title, although he is ready to fight Joshua Pacio or even Lito Adiwang if needed. ONE Championship (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—Rene Catalan recently said that he wants to go for the ONE strawweight title again.

However, he clarified on Wednesday that it does not mean that he would have to face Joshua Pacio again.

Catalan said that as much as possible, he wants a non-Filipino to hold the belt so that he can challenge for it anew.

"Wala naman akong planong lumaban sa kapwa Pinoy ko," Catalan stressed.

In fact, he revealed that he was halfhearted when he was pitted against Pacio at ONE: Masters of Fate two years ago at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay, a rare moment that two Filipinos collided for a world mixed martial arts title.

He even bared that he had to decline an all-Filipino bout that could have taken place earlier in that year.

"Yung unang offer sa akin noong May 2019, nag-decline ako. Sabi ko, 'Ayaw kong lumaban sa kapwa Pinoy ko. Kahit sino, lalabanan ko basta huwag lang kapwa Pinoy ko kasi matagal na akong naghahawak ng bandera ng Pilipinas tapos ngayon kapwa Pinoy makakatapat ko?'" Catalan recalled how he said no to the said fight offer.

At that time, however, Catalan was ranked number one among the strawweight contenders, and that meant he was in line for a world title shot.

As it eventually turned out, the Pacio-Catalan fight was set.

"Even though hindi ako wholehearted na lumaban kay Pacio, kailangan kong lumaban kasi ako yung nabigyan ng pagkakataon," Catalan further said.

But while he clarified that he does not have a "100 percent desire" to face Pacio again, Catalan said that his world title quest is set, even if Pacio stays as champ.

"Yung goal ko is makabalik sa world title shot. Kung sino man yung naka-posisyon sa world title shot—sino yung champion—yung desire ko is makatapat ko," Catalan said.

However, he has to undergo a long road to the title, which actually started already last Oct. 29 when he took on Alex Silva at ONE: NextGen 3 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

How the Catalan-Silva fight transpired would only be revealed on Nov. 26 when ONE: NextGen 3 makes its premiere broadcast.

Assuming Catalan stunned Silva, currently ranked fourth among strawweight contenders, the former wants to take on the rest of the Top 5 next.

"Tatlo ang gusto kong kalabanin sunod, si [Yosuke] Saruta, [Bokang] Masunyane, at saka si [Hiroba] Minowa," Catalan bared a wishlist of who to fight next.

A Filipino fighter, Pacio's Team Lakay ally Lito Adiwang, is also in the Top 5.

Despite having to be involved in an all-Filipino showdown again, Catalan said that he is open to facing Adiwang especially if the latter eventually gets a hold of the ONE Championship gold.

"Sa akin, walang problema kung ano ang itatapat sa akin, basta meron lang good preparation," Catalan further said.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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