Rene Catalan guns for first winning streak in ONE Championship

Winning has been closely associated with Filipino fighter Rene Catalan (1-2) in international wushu tournaments after bringing home numerous gold medals for the Philippines.

But what remains elusive for the 38-year-old Filipino is a championship belt since he transitioned to mixed martial arts (MMA) in 2013.

Catalan actually wanted to mirror his success in wushu in the 2006 Asian Games, where he bagged a gold medal in men’s sand in the 52-kg.

And he’s hopeful that his first victory as an MMA competitor against Chinese fighter Zhang You Liang last September will signal the start of his winning streak.

With his incredible work rate and accurate striking, Catalan dominated Zhang to win the three-round straw weight encounter via unanimous decision at ONE: Unbreakable Warrior.

The stocky Catalan aims to make a quick followup on that win when he clashes with ONE Strawweight Indonesian Tournament Champion Adrian Matheis (3-1) at ONE: Quest for Power in Jakarta, Indonesia on January 14 next year.

The 38-year-old Filipino Wushu veteran sees his marquee match-up against Matheis as an opportunity to extend his success inside the ONE Championship cage.

“This is my chance to establish my first winning streak in ONE Championship. It’s not impossible. That’s why I am exerting a tremendous amount of effort in training. I want to keep on winning,” Catalan said.

And there’s nothing more gratifying and rewarding than to win it for the country.

“I am inspired to win the fight because I am representing the Philippines. It is always an honor to fight for my country. My goal in this fight is to win and bring pride to my nation,” he added.

Although both men possess superb striking pedigrees, Catalan believes he still 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 pointed out.

With the aim to be a more versatile fighter than his cage counterpart, Catalan said he worked extensively on his ground game in training camp.

“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,” Catalan said.

Catalan hopes second secure a fight with Yoshitaka Naito for the ONE Strawweight World Championship belt should he earn a victory over Matheis.

“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.