AN all-Filipino rivalry is set to unite a martial arts nation when ONE: MASTERS OF FATE takes center stage at the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.
But after Team Lakay’s Joshua “The Passion” Pacio and Catalan Fighting Systems’ Rene “The Challenger” Catalan go head-to-head, the latter stresses that the rivalry will be over when the bout ends on Friday, 8 November.
“We have had an unspoken rivalry with Team Lakay for more than a decade just because they are the top team in the country. We actually look up to them, because we aspire to reach the heights that they have,” Catalan said.
“We understand that before they reached their place in Philippine martial arts, they sacrificed a lot of time away from their families to train, investments to fund their training, and even their own bodies as they fought through everyone trying to succeed in this world."
Catalan has always said he would not compete against a compatriot for the World Title, but due to current circumstances, the multiple-time wushu World Champion is fired up to win the ONE Strawweight World Title.
He is on a six-match win streak in The Home Of Martial Arts, while Pacio reclaimed his golden strap from Yosuke Saruta at ONE: ROOTS OF HONOR in April 2019. Because of that, the two thoroughly deserve a test against one another.
Although only one of the Filipino athletes will leave a World Champion, the nation will still be a winner because millions of fans worldwide will get to see the current world-class level of martial arts in the Philippines.
“I really didn’t like the things that were thrown my way – even if I didn’t say anything about them. I declined a match back in August precisely because I didn’t want to compete against a fellow Filipino, and I was happy that a compatriot was holding a World Title. I wanted to support my compatriot,” Catalan said.
“However, Pacio posted something saying that he could finish me in less than 15 minutes. I don’t know who came out with it, but when I was interviewed about my thoughts on that statement, I just said that we can wait and see if he can back it up.”
Can "The Challenger" finally put this rivalry to an end? Or will Pacio prove he is the most dominant Filipino strawweight in ONE Championship?