Rene “The Challenger” Catalan may be knee deep in his blossoming career with ONE Championship, but he is looking towards the future.
In fact, the strawweight contender is already scouting young talents who could represent Philippine mixed martial arts in the years to come.
Catalan, a former Wushu World Champion with a professional mixed martial arts record of 6-2-1, launched his promotion Philippine Encuentro Championship. He held its inaugural event at the Catalan Fighting System Training Camp in Makati on Saturday, May 25.
The 40-year-old’s goal for putting up a local show is plain and simple: discover hidden talents who could end up as the next Rene Catalan or Eduard Folayang.
“One of my missions is to help out my fellow Filipinos — for them to see their potential in mixed martial arts and for me to help them develop it. No drama, no politics, just mixed martial arts,” he explained.
”I saw many young athletes, and I can already see a good future for them. We had a lot of support from Iloilo and Baguio. It just means there’s a lot of potential to unearth, especially if events like this would continue.”
True enough, Catalan was able to witness potential in what he witnessed that evening.
He saw promise in the youth through his own promotion, and he believes the prospects he discovered just need proper guidance in order to be successful.
“The future looks bright. I see them as the next ones who will carry the mantle in mixed martial arts. Some promote fights for business, but me being a national athlete, my only goal is to help out my fellow athletes,” he said.
“This a stepping stone. This is to encourage Pinoys to enter martial arts. I did this event so that Filipinos won’t just focus on boxing or Muay Thai, but mixed martial arts in general.”
Catalan also admitted that setting up a show has its drawbacks.
It surely isn’t cheap, but he feels it is a sacrifice he has to make for the sake of expanding the sport in the country.
“I guess we need to invest in this mission, even though I’m doing all the spending because there are no sponsors in this,” he added.
“That’s my passion — develop mixed martial arts in the Philippines.”