HIGHLAND warriors seek a much needed victory Friday evening, November 8, at the Mall of Asia Arena as ONE Championship brings another jam packed mixed martial arts action dubbed Masters of Fate.
Joshua Pacio, ONE strawweight world champion, will defend his title in the main event against top contender and fellow Filipino Rene Catalan.
“Once again, it is an honor to perform in front of my hometown fans in Manila. Putting on a show for all the Filipino people, it’s always something I am excited for. Rene Catalan is a worthy challenger. He’s riding a six-bout winning streak and is full of confidence,” said Pacio.
Pacio said he expects a tough contest against one of the best striker in the division who has finished his last six bouts including an impressive victory against former world champion Yoshitaka Naito.
“I am expecting only the best from him. As always, I take this as an opportunity to test my skills. He’s a veteran who has been fighting his whole life. I have also been impressed by his recent performances, especially against Yoshitaka Naito. It’s rare that a Filipino will fight another Filipino for a World Title. But I’m glad to be part of history,” he added.
Coming in as challenger, Catalan said he will not waste an opportunity which only comes one in a life time.
“I am super confident heading into this matchup. Becoming a mixed martial arts world champion has been a goal of mine for a long time. Now, I have the opportunity to fulfill my dream. I know chances like this don’t come often, so I’m giving this everything I have,” Catalan added.
Catalan said despite the age gap, the wushu world champion believes he has everything to gain in their bout and vows to steal the world title from the Team Lakay star.
“I don’t plan on leaving the circle without that belt. Joshua Pacio is a young champion, he still has his entire career ahead of him. I respect his skills and his journey up to this point. But once that cage door shuts, it’s go time. No matter who wins, the honor and glory go to the Philippines,” quipped Catalan.
Also in the undercard are former ONE lightweight world champion Eduard Folayang taking on Mongolia’s Amarsanaa Tsogookhuu and former ONE flyweight world champion Geje Eustaquio squaring off against Toni Tauro in a rematch.
“I am glad to be back competing again. I know my back is against the wall right now. This year hasn’t exactly gone to plan. But I’ve been working hard. I know victory is important this time. I’m facing a hungry opponent from Mongolia who will be looking to beat a big name,” Folayang said.
Folayang added he is confident in making another run at the ONE lightweight world title if he makes it against a highly competitive Mongolian.
“I’ve been in this situation before and I know what I need to do. I’m a veteran of this sport, and I’ve been doing this for a long time. Still, I feel confident in making another run at the ONE Lightweight World Title. My journey starts anew at home in Manila,” he added.
Eustaquio meanwhile said he has a lot to prove against Tauro after strings of loses this year.
“Things haven’t gone my way this year, and I’ve had a lot of learning opportunities. I can honestly say that I am a better martial artist now than ever before. This rematch with Toni Tauru is very important for me, because it’s a win I would like to get back. I want to be known as ‘The King of Rematch’ and beating Tauru will prove that,” Eustaquio said.