ONE: Catalan aims to jumpstart world title bid vs unbeaten foe
MANILA, Philippines — Rene Catalan is determined to get another crack at the ONE strawweight strap after losing in his first world title shot last year.
Catalan is currently the No. 3 contender in the division but a win over the up-and-coming Bokang Masunyane of South Africa on Friday in ONE: Big Bang in Singapore will certainly boost his bid for another run at the crown.
“I feel excited to be back in competition. This is what I love to do. It’s where I belong,” said Catalan.
“My goal is to come up and take the top ranking in the division, so expect me to fight strong. I am hungry and I will fight like it so I can reach my goal of being number one again and challenging the champion once more.”
But standing in his way is Masunyane, who is expected to give him a run for his money.
Masunyane is a bronze medalist in the Commonwealth Games with a perfect 7-0 record in his MMA career.
He made his ONE Championship debut in December of last year and beat Ryuto Sawada by unanimous decision.
“Bokang Masunyane is a hungry young lion. From what I’ve seen of him, he’s really strong and has good wrestling skills. As soon as we scouted him, we started working on how to defend his wrestling. It’s going to be an explosive fight. I know Bokang is really hungry to win this fight, but I am hungry to bounce back as well so I can get another world title shot,” said Catalan.
“I’ve worked a lot on my wrestling over the past few years, and I’m at a point now where I am comfortable. But my strength will always be in my striking. I am a wushu sanda striker, and I will strike with him.”
The 41-year-old Catalan is 15 years old than Masunyane but he believes having fought longer inside the ONE Circle will be his edge.
“This is not going to be an easy fight. But I think I have the edge in experience,” said Catalan (6-3), whose six-fight streak was snapped via second-round submission by compatriot and reigning strawweight champion Joshua Pacio in November of last year.
“I have seen some things in the Circle that he hasn’t experienced before. I’m going to use that to my advantage.”