By Nick Giongco
CLARKFIELD, Pampanga—Former world wushu champion Rene Catalan and MMA standout Mark Striegl will banner the Philippines in the sambo competitions of the 30th Southeast Asian Games that gets going Thursday at the Angeles University Foundation in Angeles City.
The 40-year-old Catalan even figured in a major MMA fight early last month but is nonetheless upbeat about his chances in the 57 kg combat event of the Russian sport that is widely taught among military personnel dating back to the days of the former USSR.
Striegl, 31, meanwhile, will see action in the 74 kg also in combat.
There will be six gold medals up for grabs in the sport that is a staple among the world’s biggest names in mix martial arts, including Khabib Nurmagomedov, the current UFC lightweight champion, and ex-UFC titleholder Oleg Taktarov.
The other Filipino entries include Helen Aclopen, Charisse Andal, Mariane Mariano, Miguel Cazenas, Patrick Dos Santos, Andre Kim, Patrick Paul Manicad, Jose Rene Mondejar and Chino Sy.
Fil-Am Brandon Vera, formerly the ONE FC heavyweight champion, is said to be lending a hand to the Philippine squad.