Fighting out of Iloilo, Philippines, Rene “The Challenger” Catalan, 39, is riding a four-bout winning streak. If he wins at “ONE: Reign of Kings,” he will earn his fifth victory in ONE Championship.
Catalan had a turbulent start to his tenure in ONE Championship when he joined the promotion in 2013, but he has completely turned his professional mixed martial arts career around. In his first three years with the organization, having his hand raised was elusive as he suffered a pair of losses at the hands of future strawweight kingpins Alex “Little Rock” Silva, 35, of Brazil and Dejdamrong “Kru Rong” Sor Amnuaysirichoke, 39, of Thailand.
Despite the series of setbacks, Catalan still found motivation to train and wear his four-ounce gloves, which paid dividends when he finally claimed his first victory as a mixed martial artist in September 2016. He said, “While some athletes get discouraged with early failure, I used my losses in my career as motivation to get back on my feet.”
With a professional MMA record of 4 wins and 2 losses, Catalan looks to break into the upper echelon of ONE Championship’s talented strawweight division. He is booked to lock horns with Stefer Rahardian, 31, of Jakarta, Indonesia on July 27, 2018 at “ONE: Reign of Kings” at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines.
The four opponents defeated by Catalan in ONE Championship are strawweights Adrian Mattheis of Indonesia and Zhang You Liang, Bu Huo You Ga and Peng Xue Wen of China. The Filipino fighter believes that a victory over Rahardian will leave no doubts that he belongs to the elite strawweight bracket.
“Though I was able to win four fights in a row, I was still criticized by many followers of the sport online,” Catalan noted. “You can’t please everybody, but in my opinion, a win in this bout will validate my claim as a contender in my division.”
Watch the bout between Catalan and Peng here: