Fifth-ranked flyweight and former title challenger Reece “Lightning” McLaren of Australia believes he is but a couple of wins away from challenging for the ONE World Title. A victory over his next opponent, undefeated Finnish warrior Aleksi “The Giant” Toivonen, would certainly add to his case.
McLaren and Toivonen lock horns in a three round flyweight mixed martial arts contest at ONE: REIGN OF DYNASTIES, scheduled for Friday, 9 October, live from Singapore.
Similar to what the NBA has done in Orlando, FL for the 2020 NBA Playoffs, ONE Championship has put together a stringent set of protocols to ensure the health and safety of its athletes and staff in it’s own ‘Singapore bubble.’
“Lightning” says he will be coming into the Circle having made some key improvements to his overall game.
“I just kept doing what I do. I always run and do lots of visualization and lots of studying – just watching and watching and watching,” said McLaren.
“I made a few leaps and bounds in a few aspects of mixed martial arts, so it definitely made me go back, slow things down, and study positions more. I think [the fans are] going to see a better, improved me. In the last six months, I’ve made some massive, massive gains.”
Toivonen is an accomplished grappler in the European circuit, which compliments McLaren’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt very well. Together, the two will provide fans an intriguing matchup between two high-level fighters on the mat.
As is the case when two grapplers face each other, this bout could ultimately end up being spent on the feet however, and McLaren, is prepared either way.
“He looks strong and he looks like he takes the back really well. He grapples very well. Being a European champion – that’s a great achievement. I know the grappling circuit in Europe is very high-level. They get all the big guns going to the Europeans, so that means he’s a very good grappler,” said McLaren.
“I think it could go either way. It’s either going to be a stand-up battle as the two grapplers equal each other, or it’s going to turn into a massive grappling match. I’m a mixed martial artist, so wherever I can take it to have the edge, I’ll take it there.”
ONE Championship returns for its next big blockbuster with ONE: REIGN OF DYNASTIES, scheduled for Friday, 9 October, and once again, the world’s greatest martial artists are ready to take the stage and showcase their incredible skills in the ONE Circle.
In the main event, reigning ONE Strawweight Muay Thai and Kickboxing World Champion Sam-A Gaiyanghadao of Thailand will defend his Muay Thai title against top contender Josh “Timebomb” Tonna of Australia.
McLaren is looking to get back into position as one of the top contenders for the ONE World Title. Just a year ago, “Lightning” recalls he was already next in line for a title shot. But when Demetrious Johnson came into the frame, and the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix was introduced, McLaren gave way to compete in the tournament.
Unfortunately, he bowed out of the tournament early after a loss to former champion Kairat Akhmetov. Johnson is expected to challenge reigning ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano Moraes some time in the near future.
With a win over Toivonen, McLaren believes he would serve as a good replacement, should Johnson or Moraes be unable to compete for some reason.
“I just think that any win at the moment for anyone will keep pushing us up the rankings. Honestly, you go back to a year ago and I was slated to fight for the belt, so I believe I’m one or two wins away from having my name there as a replacement if Demetrious or Moraes get hurt,” said McLaren.
“I don’t like to predict because everyone sounds cocky in predictions. So, all I can say is it’s going to be an exciting match, and tune in.”