There was a lot at stake on Friday, 9 March, when Filipino-Australian grappler Reece “Lightning” McLaren stood face-to-face with Malaysian hero Gianni Subba in the ONE Championship cage.
McLaren was originally supposed to face reigning ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano Moraes in Malaysia, but the Brazilian was forced to withdraw due to injury. McLaren selflessly accepted a short notice bout against Subba, putting his challenger status on the line just to ensure the show still had a headliner.
In the subsequent flyweight world title eliminator, McLaren shone, as he shocked a packed Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to submit the hometown hero in the main event of ONE: VISIONS OF VICTORY.
Going into the match-up, Subba was perceived to have the edge in the striking department, whereas McLaren, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, owned a grappling advantage. The action, however, was varied, and shifted from striking to grappling for the majority of the contest.
In the first round, “Lightning” immediately tried to close the distance from the get-go, storming out of the gates looking for a takedown. Subba, with his long reach, used his strikes to keep the Aussie from getting on the inside.
As McLaren constantly shifted between the southpaw stance and orthodox, the Malaysian peppered him with a long and rangy left jab. It quickly became evident that the local favorite had to keep McLaren out of range, or else risk being taken to the mat.
After ducking a punch from Subba, however, McLaren was able to drive him to the canvas with a single leg takedown. He then swiftly took full mount, and ended the round with ground and pound.
The Malaysian turned up the pressure in the second frame, using his kicks to sweep McLaren’s legs from underneath him. At this time, “Lightning” chose to operate primarily in the southpaw stance, where he was able to move well and circle towards Subba’s weaker side.
McLaren’s game plan was evident, as he constantly sought the takedown. Subba was scouting them quite nicely, however, and defended comfortably while continuing to fire away with his left jab.
Although the Malaysian employed a sound striking strategy, the momentum started to shift towards McLaren, who connected on a left straight that shook Subba. McLaren proved relentless in looking for the takedown, and in an instant, he was able to secure a double leg, bringing Subba to the canvas once more.
Within mere seconds, McLaren moved into full mount, masterfully trapped the Malaysian’s left arm across his shoulder, and stepped over to complete an arm-triangle choke in flash. The hold was deep, and Subba had no choice but to tap.
“Lightning” improves his record to 11-5, and becomes the first man to finish Subba inside the cage. He also secured a future title shot against either ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano Moraes or ONE Interim Flyweight World Champion Geje Eustaquio.