Rene “The Challenger” Catalan wants another crack at reigning ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua “The Passion” Pacio.
But for him to get there, he may need to meet an old foe who is hungry to even the score with him.
The 41-year-old expects to cross paths with the second-ranked strawweight, Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito, as he hopes to build his case again as the top contender in the weight class.
“I need to beat the number two guy first, so I have a chance to vie for number one,” Catalan said.
“Saruta is currently the number one contender, I waouldn’t be surprised if he faces Pacio again, so it’s very possible for me to get a rematch with Naito.”
Catalan has already beaten Naito in the past at ONE: REIGN OF VALOR, but the Japanese athlete remains on top in the official rankings after winning his last two bouts.
“I have no problems with Naito going over me. He has bounced back and he’s looked impressive as of late, so I am fine with the rankings the way it is.”
In their initial match last year, Catalan surprised everyone with excellent takedown defense, which basically kept Naito at bay all match long.
With the Catalan Fighting System founder stuffing every Naito attempt at a takedown and raining down big time blows as counters, it did not take long for referee Kemp Cheng to stop the contest and award Catalan the momentous victory.
That in mind, he expects a tougher match against Naito this time.
“[Naito] will definitely work double-time against me. He can certainly adjust like what he did against Alex Silva,” Catalan said.
“I also expect him to polish his striking, and maybe play with me a bit on the feet before trying to impose his will on the ground.”
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