Reece “Lightning” McLaren is a superstar on the rise.
The 26-year-old Australian can lock down his ONE Flyweight World Title shot this coming Friday, 9 March, when he meets local hero Gianni Subba in the main event of ONE: VISIONS OF VICTORY. The card takes place at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
McLaren, a BJJ black belt with dynamic striking, has made quite an impact in ONE Championship ever since his debut in December 2015. Although he experienced plenty of success in the bantamweight division, he moved down to the flyweight division last November, and made an immediate impact.
Here are the three marquee victories that prove McLaren is a legitimate threat to any division.
The Stunning Upset Win On His Debut
McLaren may have accepted his promotional debut against Filipino Mark “Mugen” Striegl on short notice in December 2015 at ONE: SPIRIT OF CHAMPIONS, but he made the most of his opportunity, and won over the Manila crowd.
Striegl applied pressure early with relentless grappling, and tried to overpower the promotional debutant with a smothering ground attack. At the halfway point of the opening round, “Lightning” escaped, and brought the bout back to the feet. Just as McLaren started to find his range, Striegl caught a flying knee and brought him back to the canvas.
As the second frame opened, McLaren proved his striking superiority, as he connected with leg kicks and jabs at will. “Mugen,” however, dropped the Filipino-Australian with a short elbow midway through the stanza, and swarmed with punches. But “Lightning” recovered, and again, returned to his feet and continued to deploy his stand-up attack.
The tide of the bout turned in the third round. Striegl predictably went for a takedown, but McLaren stuffed the attempt, and then sunk in a tight guillotine choke. He kept transitioning from position to position in an effort to finish Striegl, eventually pulling off the upset with a rear-naked choke.
Handing Muin Gafurov His First Loss
“Lightning” struck again in McLaren’s second ONE Championship appearance, as he met top bantamweight contender Muin “Tajik” Gafurov at ONE: GLOBAL RIVALS in April 2016.
The Australian exhibited his top-shelf grappling ability from the opening bell, and spent the majority of the first round controlling the action of the ground. Most significantly, he secured a crucifix and dropped short elbows, before transitioning into a tight guillotine choke attempt to end the frame.
McLaren continued to overwhelm “Tajik” with airtight grappling in the second period. Halfway through the round, as “Lightning” scooped Gafurov up for a double leg takedown, the Tajikistani tried for a guillotine choke of his own. However, McLaren easily escaped the position, and proceeded to impose his will.
Much of the same followed in the third round, but Gafurov had a fleeting moment where he clipped his Filipino-Australian opponent with his striking. McLaren, however, shot for the takedown again, and nullified “Tajik” with his world-class grappling.
Not only did “Lightning” earn the unanimous decision victory, but he became the first man to defeat Gafurov, and also earned a shot at the ONE Bantamweight World Title.
Stopping Thai Contender Anatpong Bunrad
Following a pair of tough losses to reigning kingpin Bibiano Fernandes and then Kevin Belingon, McLaren made the decision to move down to his optimal weight class. It was a wise decision, as he made an instant statement in his flyweight debut opposite Anatpong “Mak Mak” Bunrad at ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD in November 2017.
In the early going, Bunrad got the better of the standing exchanges, as he used his Dutch-influenced Thai boxing to his advantage. Two minutes into the bout, however, “Lightning” completed a slick double leg takedown.
The Thai defended well with a butterfly guard, and then pushed off McLaren to get back to his feet. But the Aussie secured a massive double leg takedown, transitioned into mount, and fished for an arm-triangle choke. Realizing he could not get a tight enough submission, he transitioned to a D’Arce choke, and with merely seconds left in the opening round, forced Bunrad to tap.
With that victory, McLaren became the first man ever to finish “Mak Mak,” and became an instant contender in the flyweight division.
Kuala Lumpur | 9 March | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onevisions18