Rene "D’ Challenger" Catalan may have come up short in his bid for a world championship in mixed martial arts, but the veteran Filipino martial artist still has a chance to end the year with some gold as he represents the Philippines in the upcoming 2019 Southeast Asian Games later this year.
The 40-year old Catalan saw his six-fight winning streak come to an end when he was submitted by reigning ONE Strawweight World Champion and fellow Pinoy Joshua “The Passion” Pacio in the second round of their world title main event at ONE: Masters of Fate last November 8th at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
With his biggest MMA fight to date now in the books, Catalan turns his attention to once again bringing glory to the Philippines. The former Asian Games and SEA Games gold medalist in Wushu returns to National Team duty, this time in Kickboxing and Russian Sambo.
“Tuloy-tuloy na yung training, non-stop, kasi bandila na ng Pilipinas ito eh,” an upbeat Catalan shared during the post-fight presser last Friday. “We're proud, with my brother Ruel Catalan na magko-compete sa SEA Games, and then one of my athletes, si Patrick Manicad, dalawa kami na magko-compete sa Sambo.”
After competing for himself and his Catalan Fighting Systems team inside the ONE Circle, Catalan takes pride in competing for his country.
“Kumbaga ngayon, excited kami for the upcoming SEA Games, kasi bandila ng Pilipinas yung dadalhin namin.”
Winning a world championship just a month before winning some more SEA Games gold medals would have been a fantastic way to close out 2019 for Catalan, but the Iloilo-native isn’t getting too down about falling short in his first MMA world championship opportunity.
“Hindi naman ako na-disappoint sa pagkatalo ko ngayon, I did my gameplan, they're strong,” Catalan said of Pacio and Team Lakay. “Kumbaga, it's a good experience para sa akin, and then for my team, para papalakasin.”
For the SEA Games however, Catalan made it clear that he and his fellow National Team members aren’t joining just to take part, rather they’re joining to win.
“Our goal sa SEA Games is not to just compete lang para sa Pilipinas, kundi, we're going to the SEA Games to compete for a gold medal,” Catalan stated.
This story was originally published on the ABS-CBN Sports website.