Alex Silva (ONE Championship)

Former ONE Strawweight World Champion Alex “Little Rock” Silva and former top contender Rene “The Challenger” Catalan have come a long way since their first meeting eight years ago.  

But unlike their initial fight, which took place when both athletes were new to mixed martial arts, they will now face each other as two battle-tested strawweights looking for one more run to the top of the division.  

“Both of us are completely different fighters now,” Silva told ahead of their clash at the previously recorded ONE: NEXTGEN III, which airs this Friday from the Singapore Indoor Stadium. 

“In my mind, we were kind of like white belts in MMA when we first fought, but we’ve improved a lot. Of course, he’s improved a lot. His grappling, his wrestling, and his striking are outstanding. But I’ve improved a lot too – I can strike now. 

“[However,] even if he’s improved his grappling, I don’t think he’s up to par with my grappling. I have been watching him for a long time.” 

When the pair first faced off, it was only Silva’s third fight. He was just starting his transition from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to mixed martial arts.  

He was able to submit Catalan in a single round, and it turned out to be the start of a six-bout winning streak that saw him snatch the ONE Strawweight World Title from Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito.  

Catalan, on the other hand, was making his professional mixed martial arts debut after a successful wushu career in which he won a few World Titles.  

While his loss to Silva symbolized a rough start in the organization, “The Challenger” eventually found his footing, won six straight bouts, and got a shot at current ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua “The Passion” Pacio. 

While Catalan lost that match, he’s already proven that he can pull his weight in the division, and that’s not lost on Silva. 

“I’m very confident in my skills and my grappling skills,” the Brazilian said.  

“Like I said, back to when we fought for the first time, I couldn’t strike well. I couldn’t even strike. I [was] just like 100 percent pure grappling. Now, I feel that I can stay more on the feet if I have to and use my grappling.” 

Now, after eight years since last competing against each other, the Evolve MMA star is confident that he’ll be able to submit Catalan once more.  

“I think God knows what’s going to happen,” Silva said. “But I predict a submission in the second round.”    

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