When Reece McLaren dropped a unanimous decision in ONE Championship’s Flyweight World Grand Prix quarterfinal round in 2019, he had no idea the opportunity to avenge that setback would come full circle four years later.
Next month, the man known as “Lightning” will have the chance to right those wrongs when the promotion ventures west to Colorado’s 1stBank Center in the U.S. for the very first time to host ONE Fight Night 10: Johnson vs. Moraes III on Friday, May 5.
There, he’ll meet the division’s former king and current #2-ranked contender, Kairat Akhmetov.
The Australian cruised into their initial meeting on a three-fight winning streak, and he was feeling every ounce of the confidence that came from it.
Despite the setback at ONE: A New Era, McLaren coincidentally marks the night as the moment a new era also began for him. Having thoroughly assessed his performance, the personal growth the flyweight took from that contest has shaped him into the battler we see today.
Having won four of his last six outings, as well as riding a two-fight winning streak featuring a pair of highlight-worthy stoppages, McLaren is pumped to face his Kazakhstani nemesis once again.
“I didn’t really fight too well. I made a few mistakes, and when you’ve watched enough fighting and done it enough, you know when you’re bluffing and when you want to fight, and now, I definitely want to fight,” he said.
“Now, I know exactly where I went wrong and what happened. So, I instantly grew from it. And I’m super-pumped to get back in there with me and test this new skill.”
The resurgence of his flyweight career has been a sight to behold for many of McLaren’s fans, and the Gold Coast native credits fellow countryman and ONE veteran John Wayne Parr for allowing him to sit under the combat sports icon’s learning tree.
Those lessons learned from “The Gunslinger” were on full display when he finished Windson Ramos via second-round TKO, a contest in which onlookers felt the talented grappler’s striking looked better than ever before.
And with his biggest fight on the horizon, “Lightning” feels like a new man under the tutelage of Parr.
“It’s been awesome. He’s just bucket loads of knowledge and present knowledge and hasn’t steered me wrong, and yes, it’s awesome,” McLaren beamed. “New breath in life in this mixed martial arts journey.”
Now feeling like his skills have developed tenfold under Parr at Boonchu Gym, the exciting flyweight promises fireworks on a pivotal night for the organization. And with title talks looming over the contest, it is all up for grabs for whoever leaves the matchup victorious.
“Tune in because it’s going to be a fun night,” McLaren added. “We’re bringing the fireworks. That’s all I can say. I’m fired up.”