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Catalan KO’s Naito to inch closer to ONE title shot


MANILA — Rene Catalan pulled off a major stunner at ONE: Reign of Valor after beating former ONE strawweight champion Yoshitaka Naito at the Thuwanna Indoor Stadium in Yangon on Friday night.

A series of right hand punches to the face from Catalan opened a huge cut on Naito’s right cheek, and the latter, despite quickly bringing the game to the ground, could not hold on as blood continued to flow, forcing the referee to stop the fight at the 4:32 mark of the very first round.

Catalan, who is now on a six-fight winning streak, moved closer to a shot for the strawweight belt currently owned by Yosuke Saruta.

Catalan somehow avenged Jomary Torres’ loss to Lin Heqin.

Lin made an impressive debut in ONE Championship after overturning Torres’ quick takedown and scoring a deep triangle choke submission at the 4:12 mark of Round 1.

In the main event that spilled to early Saturday (Philippine time), former Boracay-based Swedish fighter Zebaztian Kadestam remained as the ONE welterweight champion after forcing Georgiy Kichigin to concede after two rounds.

Kadestam completed a comeback from Kichigin’s ground game by delivering elbow strikes to the head late in Round 2 that wobbled the latter so much that he decided to call it a night just before Round 3 started. (PNA)