Filipino strawweight competitor Rabin “The Rock” Catalan will pay his respects to late brother-in-arms Rocky Batolbatol when he steps into the ONE Championship cage. The 31-year-old Iloilo City native is slated to lock horns with Thai stalwart Kritsada “Dream Man” Kongsrichai on the undercard of “ONE: Warriors of the World,” which takes place at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand on Dec. 9, Saturday.
Catalan dedicates his upcoming bout against Kongsrichai to his deceased teammate and fellow ONE Championship athlete, who passed away on July 23 due to a tragic accident in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines. Batolbatol became part of the growing ONE Championship family in 2014, competing in three exciting bouts under Asia’s largest global sports media property.
Known by the moniker The Outlaw due to his fan-friendly style inside the cage, Batolbatol was a professional boxer who transitioned smoothly into the sport of mixed martial arts, owning a win-loss record of 5-3 with two spectacular knockout wins and one impressive submission victory. He was last seen inside the ONE Championship cage in May 2016 when he faced Singaporean prospect Christian Lee.
“Rocky is like a brother to me,” Catalan shared. “He was always there for me. There was a point in my life that I was down and out. I had no inspiration to continue my career, but he was there to uplift my spirit. He was a kind of guy who would not give up on you no matter.”
Catalan and Batolbatol were teammates at Mindanao Ultimate Mixed Martial Arts, a training facility that is headquartered in Cagayan De Oro City and houses the best and the brightest talents in the Philippine’s southernmost major island of Mindanao. Since joining ONE Championship in 2016, Batolbatol never missed a bout of Catalan as he always sat on the coach’s stool and extended his guidance to his comrade whether in victory or defeat.
“I miss him a lot,” Catalan stated. “It is difficult because I won’t have him in my corner in my upcoming fight. We all have to move forward. I am dedicating this bout to him. I will try to make him proud by getting the victory.”
Catalan has his hands full at “ONE: Warriors of the World” as he squares off with Kongsrichai in a three-round strawweight clash. Touted as one of the most promising young athletes in ONE Championship today, the latter made his promotional debut in the organization’s first-ever show in Bangkok in 2016, stopping opponent Kev Hemmorlor via first-round technical knockout.
In Kongsrichai’s most recent outing, he made quick work of Indonesia’s Adrian Matheis, finishing his opponent by way of first-round technical knockout. Although a tough test awaits Catalan, he remains unperturbed with the fact that the most challenging bout in his eight-year professional career is ahead of him.
“I don’t see it as a problem,” Catalan said. “To me, this is a challenge that can bring out the best in me.”
“The core of martial arts is to unleash a human’s true potential,” Catalan added. “I want to know my potential in this sport. That’s why I am happy to be in this fight against a talented fighter like him.”
With an extensive background in Muay Thai and Wushu, Catalan stressed that he had a solid preparation for his cage meeting with Kongsrichai, revealing that he worked on his ground game with the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners at Mindanao Ultimate Mixed Martial Arts. The Filipino fighter said, “My preparation for this fight has been absolutely awesome.”
“I got help from my friends and teammates,” Catalan continued. “They helped me to level up my striking. For this fight, I did extra work on my grappling. This will probably be the best camp that I’ve ever had in my career.”
Catalan’s back may be against the wall at “ONE: Warriors of the World” but he assured that his string of setbacks gives him an extra drive to get the win. He ended, “I really want this win because I lost my debut in ONE Championship, and then I lost my second fight. This is a chance to redeem myself. I know this fight will not be a walk in the park, but I am determined to shock the world on December 9.”