Joshua “The Passion” Pacio was originally scheduled to defend his ONE Strawweight World Title against Hayato Suzuki in the main event of ONE: ETERNAL GLORY on Friday, 19 January, but due to an injury, his Japanese challenger was forced to withdraw from the bout.
Multiple-time Wushu World Champion Rene “The Challenger” Catalan admitted that he was ready to fill in for Suzuki to face Pacio for the gold.
The 40-year-old Iloilo City native feels he deserves to share the cage with Pacio after piling up five consecutive wins in ONE Championship.
Most recently, at ONE: REIGN OF KINGS in July, he became the first person to defeat Indonesian martial arts hero Stefer “The Lion” Rahardian. He left the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines with a unanimous decision.
“I think my previous performances can vouch for my position as a contender for the belt,” he says. “I scored five straight victories against top-tier opponents, which qualifies me to be a title contender.”
However, another Japanese competitor was tapped to take Suzuki’s spot.
Shooto Strawweight World Champion Yosuke Saruta replaced his compatriot in the main event, which takes place at the Istora Senayan in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Saruta earned the title opportunity after defeating former ONE Strawweight World Champion Alex “Little Rock” Silva in his promotional debut at ONE: DESTINY OF CHAMPIONS in December.
Although he was not chosen as Suzuki’s replacement, Catalan believes a title shot will eventually fall into his lap.
“I respect [the organization’s] decision for choosing Yosuke Saruta,” he says.
“Of course, there is a reason behind it. I accept it wholeheartedly. It’s not my time yet. I am patiently waiting. I know it will come.”
With the goal to perform at his very best against the top-notch talent in his weight class, Catalan firmly believes it is only a matter of time before he gets the nod to vie for the prestigious belt.
“My goal is to keep on winning until my time to compete for the title comes,” he reinforces. “This kind of situation motivates me more. I expect big and favorable things to happen this 2019.”