Catalan, Latoel eye ONE bouts

Winning has been closely associated with Filipino fighter Rene Catalan in international Wushu tournaments as he has brought home numerous gold medals for the Philippines.

However, having his hand raised as the winner in mixed martial arts (MMA) has been elusive since he transitioned to the world’s fastest-growing sport in 2013 where he is currently just a mediocre 1-2.

When Catalan finally claimed his first victory as an MMA competitor last September at ONE: Unbreakable Warriors, it became one of the unforgettable moments in his illustrious fighting career. Just like his capturing of the gold medal at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar.

With an incredible work rate and accurate striking, Catalan dominated Chinese combatant Zhang You Liang to win the three-round strawweight encounter via unanimous decision.

Rene Catalan entering the fighting arena. Photo by ONE Championship.
Rene Catalan entering the fighting arena. Photo by ONE Championship.

Next in line for the 38-year-old veteran is ONE Strawweight Indonesian Tournament Champion Adrian Matheis at ONE: Quest For Power in Jakarta, Indonesia on January 14, 2017. Catalan sees his marquee match-up against Matheis, with a 3-1 win-loss record, as an opportunity to extend his success inside the ONE Championship cage.

“This is my chance to establish my first winning streak in ONE Championship. It’s not impossible. That’s why I am exerting a tremendous amount of effort in training. I want to keep on winning,” Catalan said.

According to Catalan, he is inspired to win against his Indonesian foe because this gives him another opportunity to give honor to the Philippines.

“I am inspired to win the fight because I am representing the Philippines. It is always an honor to fight for my country. My goal in this fight is to win and bring pride to my nation,” he stated.

Although both men possess superb striking pedigrees, Catalan believes that he still has the upper hand in the stand-up department.

“I still believe that my striking is better than his stand-up game. I am very comfortable in that aspect. If he wants to strike with me, it will be my pleasure,” he pointed out.

With the aim to be a more versatile fighter than his cage counterpart, Catalan revealed that he worked extensively on his ground game in training camp.

“For this fight, I added more emphasis to my ground game. Even though I am coming off a win, I shouldn’t be complacent. I trained with the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners in the country to hone my grappling skills,” he bared.

Catalan hopes that if he secures a decisive win over Matheis, it will grant him a date with Yoshitaka Naito for the ONE Strawweight World Championship belt.

“Every fighter dreams to become a world champion. I really hope that ONE Championship will give me an opportunity to fight for the title in the future. This fight might be the door to a world title fight. Let us all hope for the best,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dutch-Indonesian stalwart Vincent “Magnivincent” Latoel might not have received a warm reception in his past encounters against Filipino fighters, but he is all praises when it comes to their fighting spirits.

Vincent Latoel entering the fighting arena. Photo by ONE Championship.
Vincent Latoel entering the fighting arena. Photo by ONE Championship.

The 37-year-old kickboxer from Deventer, Netherlands is 16-18-2 during his 36-fight career. He has fought two highly-regarded Filipino competitors in the past, ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang in December, 2013, and featherweight standout Edward Kelly last August, 2016.

He fell short on both occasions making him not mince words about his admiration for Filipino MMA combatants.

“Filipino fighters are true warriors. I’ve faced Eduard Folayang before he became the ONE Lightweight World Champion. He was so tough and a gallant competitor. The same goes with Edward Kelly. He has a big heart,” he said.

“Filipinos fight with their pride and heart. I like these kinds of fighters because I have the same mentality,” Latoel added.

For his next assignment inside the ONE Championship cage, Latoel will be sharing the stage with another homegrown Filipino talent as he is tasked to take on Vaughn “The Spawn” Donayre (8-6) at ONE: Quest For Power.

Having two-straight setbacks in 2016, Latoel sees the new year as his chance to return to his winning ways.

“In 2016, I had two losses. Winning and losing are part of the sport. A true winner is someone who doesn’t give up and learns from his losses. I have learned from my 2016 fights. I am back, more focused and much stronger,” he stated.

Latoel expects that his three-round bout with Donayre will have no shortage of firepower as they are both known for their fan-friendly fighting styles.

“I expect the fight will be energetic and hard. It will have a lot of action, and I promise everyone that you will see a different Vincent Latoel,” he said. “I can fight at a high pace for this bout. I know that Donayre is a veteran with a dream. I will prepare for everything.”

The 5-foot-11 Tatsujin Dojo representative is confident that he will walk out of the Jakarta Convention Center with the victory as he believes that his experience will play a vital factor against Donayre.

“My greatest advantage against Donayre is my experience. I have over 30 fights in my career. I hope that I can utilize that advantage in the fight,” he stressed.

Even if he has a burning determination to come out on top of Donayre, Latoel clarified that he does not hold any grudge against Filipino fighters.

“This is nothing personal, but I am determined to win. I’m fighting a brave Filipino fighter again. I have a lot of respect for Vaughn Donayre, but it’s my time to shine,” he concluded.

BY: ARMANDO M. BOLISLIS from PRESS RELEASE Reports.

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