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Rene Catalan out to prove that there’s more to PH MMA than Team Lakay



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The success of Team Lakay and its impact on the sport of mixed martial arts in the Philippines is something that has been told, and will be re-told, for a long time.

After all, winning four World Titles in one year is a feat that would be hard to topple.

But not all Filipinos who emerge at ONE Championship comes from the fabled gym in Benguet. And this is where Rene “The Challenger” Catalan comes in.

“Team Lakay has been here for a long time. It’s only right to say that they are the top team from the Philippines,” said Catalan, who spearheads the emerging Catalan Fighting System from Makati City.

“I have nothing but respect for them.”

Like Team Lakay, the Catalans struggled to find their footing in The Home Of Martial Arts early on, but now they are making their mark in their respective divisions.

Take Rene for example. The former Asian Games Gold Medallist went winless in his first three outings with ONE before going on a tear, winning his last five contests and is now viewed as a legitimate threat to the ONE Strawweight World Title currently held by Yosuke Saruta.

Catalan, who’s scheduled to face Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito at ONE: Reign of Valor this March, is now a stone’s throw away from getting his title shot – with a win over the former World Champion all but assuring him a match for the belt.

The 40-year-old slugger, which hails from Iloilo City, is using the rise of Team Lakay – particularly Eduard Folayang’s – as his main motivation to zoom to the top.

“The likes of Eduard Folayang had to go through many heartbreaks before reaching his current status. For our team, we also need more experience to reach that level someday,” Catalan explained.

“We just need time and determination to reach the level of Team Lakay.”

Now his entire focus is on Naito, knowing fully well that a win here would be the realization not only of his dream but his team’s goals as well.

“I see this fight ending by unanimous decision or by knockout,” Catalan quipped.

“I see him as someone blocking my goal of fighting for the world title and my goal is to remove him in my path.”