Filipinos on collision course in ONE Championship
MANILA, Philippines – Following their respective winning streaks, Filipino mixed martial artists Joshua Pacio and Rene Catalan are on a collision course in the strawweight division of ONE Championship.
Pacio, riding a 3-fight streak, and Catalan, boasting a 5-bout streak, could be bound for an all-Filipino battle in what could be the title eliminator for the strawweight belt currently held by Japan's Yoshitaka "Nobita" Naito.
For Pacio, squaring off with the same man he has been watching since he was a kid would be nothing short of an honor.
Catalan, before establishing the Catalan Fighting System Philippines, was a decorated Wushu practitioner and won a gold medal in the Asian Games in 2006.
"If sir Rene and I happen to get matched up together, it's going to be a big privilege for me, as I get to test myself against one of the pioneers of mixed martial arts here in the Philippines," the 22-year-old from the Team Lakay stable said.
Pacio, although younger than the 39-year-old Catalan, is a relatively more experienced fighter – having won fought in 14 bouts (12-2) compared to Catalan's 7 (5-2).
All of his last 3 wins did not go the distance, with his most recent victory coming via a first-round submission of Pongsiri Mitsatit last July 27.
"I've faced the top contenders in our division – guys like the current champion Yoshitaka Naito, Hayato Suzuki, Dejdamrong Amnuaysirichoke and Pongsiri Misatit. These guys are no joke. These guys are tough competition,” Pacio said.
But Catalan is not enthusiastic with the idea of facing a compatriot.
"Since 2003, I've been representing for the Philippines, and until now, I try to avoid having to compete against one of my countrymen."
"I'm not a businessman, I am a martial artist, and I have martial arts principles. I compete for the glory and honor of our country," Catalan added.
If plans don't fall through, Pacio will be all business.
"If we do end up sharing the cage on our way to a title shot, then I would have no problems with that," Pacio said. – Rappler.com