Robin “The Ilonggo” Catalan secured what could be the knockout of the year — a second-round head kick KO over Gustavo “El Gladiador” Balart in their clash at ONE: Masters of Fate on Friday, November 8 at the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.
Knockout aside, Catalan was even more impressed with how he was able to control Balart’s wrestling, despite the credentials the Cuban brought into the match.
Balart was a gold medalist in the 2011 Pan American Games for wrestling. From there, he earned a spot in the 2012 Summer Olympics where he reached the quarterfinals.
Having worked on his wrestling defense ahead of this bout, “The Ilonggo” was happy to see it pay off.
“I didn’t expect that to happen so quickly. But that was my target, to score a head kick. I was luring him low, his guard opened, and I got the head kick,” Catalan said.
“I’m really happy with my wrestling defense. That’s what we worked on. I know he’s an Olympian wrestler, but we really worked hard for that.”
His celebration did not last long, though. His older brother, Rene “The Challenger” Catalan, then fell to ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua “The Passion” Pacio in the main event of the evening.
But the younger of the Catalan brothers still sees this night as a breakthrough for Catalan Fighting System. They were able to represent themselves well in the final show of ONE Championship in Manila this year.
“We’re still happy even if kuya Rene did not get it. I know that he did everything, and he knows that as a team we did everything we could for this night,” Catalan said.
“We both implemented our game plan, so we’ll go home happy.”
Knowing all eyes will be on him after the emphatic KO win, “The Ilonggo” will keep filling the holes of his game.
“If they would give me another chance, I will accept and display the same fire that I showed in this match,” the younger Catalan brother said. “There’s still a lot of things to add to my game. I know that there’s still things that I need to improve, particularly in jiu-jitsu because there are a lot of great athletes on the ground.
“I also need to sharpen my striking even more, and even in wrestling. I almost lost steam just trying to defend the wrestling of Balart.”
ONE Championship heads to Beijing, China on 16 November for ONE: AGE OF DRAGONS.
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