As he renews his quest to reach the top, Filipino-Australian dynamo Reece “Lightning” McLaren is ready to take on the best that ONE Championship’s stacked flyweight division has to offer.
McLaren is coming off a sensational victory at ONE: Reign Of Dynasties in Singapore last October 9, defeating Finland’s Aleksi Toivonen via technical knockout with 42 seconds remaining in the first round.
The 29-year-old was nothing short of spectacular against Toivonen. He picked apart the previously-unbeaten Evolve MMA representative in the stand-up, before sealing the deal with a knee strike to the midsection and follow-up ground shots.
“I hit that body a few times, and I cracked it with a kick. Once that body gets basically compromised, it doesn’t come back. I dug that knee really, really deep. It was quite a nice knee,” McLaren said about the finishing blow on The Hit List presented by SMART Sports.
“Just instinct. I just kind of put him on the fence, and I knew it’s a shot that’s always there. I just landed it and it was enough to put him down.”
Many pundits felt surprised by how the bout unfolded, since both men were known for their grappling pedigree. However, McLaren feels delighted that he was able to exhibit a different facet of his game.
“I just felt I’m not in a rush getting it down. I have that ace in my pocket, which is the double-leg. Then I just thought that I was trying to get my leg kicks off and get my hands off,” he explained.
“Once I got my range, I worked out the pace of the bout. I just kept it on the feet.”
McLaren sees himself returning to action by early next year. Though he occupies the No. 5 spot in the rankings, “Lighting” has two opponents in mind that he could lobby his case for a shot at the winner of the flyweight championship clash between division titleholder Adriano Moraes and former UFC champion Demetrious Johnson.
Team Lakay standouts Danny Kingad and Geje Eustaquio are the leading two fighters on McLaren’s wish list.
McLaren and Kingad crossed paths in the semi-final round of the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix in August 2019. The latter walked away with a razor-thin split decision.
“I would love a rematch [with Kingad]. I’m also happy to work my way up, give me four or give me three,” McLaren stated.
Meanwhile, McLaren has been daydreaming of an encounter with Eustaquio since moving down to flyweight a few years ago.
“I always wanted to challenge myself against Geje. He’s the ex-world champion. For me, that’s a fight that always I wanted. I respect him so much as a person and as a fighter. I’d really like to test my skills against him,” he expressed.
However, McLaren clarified that he is willing to face all comers as long as it can fast-track his ascent to the apex of his weight class.
“At this time, I just want to keep on getting back in there so whoever, whenever, I’m down respectfully.”