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Naito destruction puts Rene Catalan in ONE world title conversation

Naito destruction puts Rene Catalan in ONE world title conversation

MANILA, Philippines — Don’t be surprised if Rene Catalan’s next fight is for the ONE world title.

He certainly deserves a shot.

Catalan made a strong case for the strawweight strap after toppling former world champion Yoshitaka Naito in ONE: Reign of Valor in Myanmar.

“I’m really happy because I’m one step closer now to my dreams which is a world title shot,” said Catalan, who improved his record to 6-2.

“Naito is well experienced, and he really showed why he’s a former World Champion. I’m just really happy to get the win.”

It was Catalan’s sixth consecutive victory and it certainly put himself in a great position to contend for the strawweight championship, which will be disputed by Yosuke “Tobizaru” Saruta and Joshua “Passion” Pacio in ONE: Roots of Honor on 12 April in Manila.

But before his rise to relevance in the cage, Catalan first had to overcome early adversities in his career.

Catalan was 35 when he made his MMA debut back in 2013. He lost his first two assignments against former world champions Alex Silva and Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke.

The 40-year-old Catalan has been on a resurgence since and he doesn’t appear to be slowing down just yet.

“That is my ultimate dream before retiring, winning a World Championship,” said Catalan, a wushu gold medalist in the 2006 Asian Games.

“I know that it won’t get easier, but I’m gonna hurdle every obstacle and I’m gonna take out everything that gets in my way of reaching my dreams.”