The Chiang Mai, Thailand-based strawweight kicked off the preliminary portion of ONE: WARRIOR KINGDOM on Saturday Night, 11 March, and delivered a first-round TKO to Rabin “The Rock” Catalan, much to the delight of his countrymen in Bangkok’s Impact Arena.
Though both men were tentative in the first minute of the bout, Catalan, a Philippine national wushu champion, quickly tore into his opponent with a couple of sharp combinations. Mitsatit, a Northern Muay Thai champion, responded with a powerful body kick that got his rival’s attention.
Catalan tried to take the crowd favorite to the ground, but “The Smiling Assassin” defended well, and clinched the Filipino with his back up against the cage. “The Rock” was persistent and finally dragged his unbeaten opponent to the ground, but Mitsatit landed in top position.
Opting to stay on his feet, the Team Quest Thailand product held his nemesis’ legs and landed thunderous punches, but soon referee Yuji Shimada brought the action back to the feet after a brief lull in action.
Mitsatit, a product of Chiang Mai’s Team Quest Thailand, attacked the Filipino with blistering strikes. He connected with a slew of punches and a flying knee, but Catalan immediately clinched and was able to bring him back to the ground, this time with a trip takedown.
Again, Mitsatit ended up on top, got back to his feet and waited for his visiting opponent to stand up. Once he did, the Thai attacked with a relentless barrage of crushing knees to Catalan’s midsection, which caused the wushu champion to falter to the ground. This time, he would not get back up.
Mitsatit rushed in with an unforgiving flurry of ground and pound until Shimada called off the fight at the 4:45 mark of the first round, awarding the hometown hero the victory.
With the TKO win, the Smiling Assassin improves to 8-0 and records his sixth TKO finish. Catalan, meanwhile, falls to 4-3.
A full-time Muay Thai instructor at Muayfit PJ, the Filipino lightweight lives alone in Malaysia, and sees his daughter only once a year in pursuit of his professional MMA dreams.
With four TKOs in four wins to his name, his sacrifices have not been in vain, as Corminal now finds himself making his ONE Championship debut on 11 March at ONE: WARRIOR KINGDOM.
There, Corminal will have the daunting task of facing Thai MMA pioneer Shannon Wiratchai in his hometown of Bangkok, Thailand, in front of thousands of Wiratchai’s screaming fans.
“I have watched his fights,” the Filipino says. “He is good. Tough.”
Currently training twice every day to prepare for the bout, Corminal is no stranger to adversity, having faced it his whole life.
Raised by a single mother in Manila, Philippines, he found it hard to make a living in his home country, despite having a computer science degree. He started working at a restaurant to make ends meet, but soon it proved to be unsustainable as well.
That was when Corminal made the incredibly difficult choice to leave his family behind, and relocated to Malaysia to continue working in the restaurant industry for more money.
“It got tough. I decided to come to Malaysia to work and support my family,” he said. “It was difficult. I am alone here. I had to work every day. I missed my family, but I survived.”
It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as that is where Corminal discovered Malaysian fight gym Muayfit PJ. A longtime fan of MMA, he originally only wanted to learn Muay Thai, but soon picked up an increasing number of disciplines to become a full-fledged mixed martial artist.
He made his professional MMA debut in 2012 at a Malaysian show, and it was a night that would change his life forever.
“The first time I walked to the cage, I was very nervous,” he recalls. “Once I got inside the cage, I told myself: ‘This is it, you can do it or not.’ When I heard the cage lock up, the nerves were gone. I made contact with the guy and that was it.”
Following that first TKO victory, Corminal scored three more in local promotions around Asia, started coaching at his gym, and left his mundane restaurant job behind. Simply put, he is now living his dream.
That dream continues in Bangkok when Corminal faces Wiratchai on 11 March in Bangkok. It would be the most significant bout of Corminal’s life, taking place on the most prominent stage in Asian MMA with his toughest opponent to date.
However, regardless of the result, Corminal is not worried, and exudes an aura of calm that belies his stunning knockout ability.
I am just going to do my thing,” he said. “Whether I win or lose, I just love this sport.”
The bout will headline ONE: KINGS OF DESTINY in Manila, Philippines, on 21 April at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Folayang famously won the World Title in November 2016 with a third-round TKO victory over MMA legend and then-champion Shinya Aoki. It was a performance that won Folayang several honors, including multiple “Fighter of the Year 2016″ awards.
“Winning the title against a legend like Shinya Aoki will forever hold a special place of distinction in my career, but it is only the first step in establishing my legacy,” said Folayang.
“Before champions are recognized as greats and legends of the sport, every single one of them faced contenders that challenged their prowess as champions. In April, I will have the opportunity to show the world why I hold my coveted title.
“I know how exceptional Ev Ting’s talent is. I am in a tough preparation for this bout.
“This will be my first fight in the Philippines since December 2014. I don’t want to let my countrymen down. I will make sure that the belt stays in the Philippines.”
Ting, on the other hand, earned the right to challenge Folayang after putting together an impressive four-fight win streak, including a hard-fought split decision over former title challenger Kamal Shalorus at ONE: THRONE OF TIGERS in February.
Immediately after the win, Ting called out Folayang in his post-fight interview, and expressed his desire to fight for the title on the Manila card. Folayang was quick to agree over social media, seemingly sealing the deal for the bout to take place weeks ago. Now, it is official.
“I have worked tirelessly to be where I am now. It has finally paid off because I will get an opportunity to vie for a world title,” said Ting.
“It’s every mixed martial artist’s dream to become a champion. This is my chance to fulfill that dream. Eduard Folayang is a great champion and is admired by many Filipinos, but he has what I want. I’m coming to Manila to get it from him and bring the belt home to Malaysia.”