By principle, multiple-time Wushu World Champion Rene “The Challenger” Catalan never wanted to face a fellow Filipino on his way to ONE Championship gold. But the division kingpin, Joshua “The Passion” Pacio, is the only man standing in his way of achieving that goal.
Catalan is set to challenge Pacio, the reigning ONE Strawweight World Champion, in the main event of ONE: MASTERS OF FATE, taking place on Friday, 8 November from the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.
Catalan is focused on reaching his dreams. He knows he has to overcome a monstrous challenge from a very young champion. But he’s willing to do whatever it takes.
"I realized that in this business, you could not choose your opponents if you wish to fulfill your dreams. I have wanted to become a world champion, and it just so happens that another Filipino is currently holding the title. We are both champions in our own right, but owning the ONE Strawweight World Title is something else,” he said.
It’s a rare occurrence for a Filipino to be facing another Filipino in a world title bout. Most Filipino athletes have a shared respect and honor among each other, and they even do their best to support one another.
Manny Pacquiao has done so in his fabled career. In ONE Championship, Pacio’s Team Lakay stablemate Honorio Banario took on Eric Kelly for the inaugural ONE Featherweight World Title back in 2013.
With Catalan facing Pacio, this time, destiny brings two Filipino warriors inside the circle to test each other’s limits and give all their best for the gold.
"I have no problems facing a fellow Filipino inside the cage. In the past, I have faced Filipinos before in various competitions to have the prestige of representing the Philippines internationally. It's not personal, and I believe that it's my time to become the new world champion,” he added.
If he can defeat Pacio, Catalan’s martial arts journey will have come full circle.
“I’m happy to perform once more in front of my countrymen. I feel motivated to perform well when there are Filipinos in the crowd. I have represented the Philippines multiple times before, and having the championship event here is like the perfect setup. I will give my all on November 8, not just for myself, but my team and fans as well,” said Catalan.
Catan also noted that he is thankful to ONE Championship for giving him the shot at the title.
“I am truly thankful to ONE Championship for giving me this shot at the title. I have been waiting for this opportunity for a long time, and I have worked hard to earn this. All the blood, sweat, tears, and sacrifices are finally paying off. I will not let this opportunity slip away.”