There are many qualities that define Reece “Lightning” McLaren (11-5) as an elite mixed martial artist, but his impeccable work ethic is at the top of the list.
The Australian has experienced plenty of adversity during the course of his nearly eight-year career, but he makes a guarantee ahead of every contest that he will work harder than any warrior that stands across from him in the cage.
Whether that means battling more fiercely to win every scramble, being more disciplined in his diet, or putting in a few extra training sessions at Potential Unlimited Mixed Martial Arts, McLaren has never been afraid of the grueling demands that it takes to become one of the world’s best flyweights.
Fortunately for “Lightning,” he never had to look far for inspiration. He found it in the form of his stepfather, Vincent, who raised the young McLaren and his brother on Christmas Island.
McLaren never met his biological father, but his in his stead, he found someone who was there for him every step of the way. He is the only father he has ever known.
“I have never called him my stepdad, ever. He has always been my dad,” the 26-year-old Gold Coast, Australia resident says.
“He worked hard, and he provided us with a very, very comfortable lifestyle. I have been very lucky to have him in my life.”
McLaren’s dad was not the direct influence that got him involved in martial arts, but he set an example of the work ethic it would take to accomplish his goals in all areas of his life.
According to the flyweight contender, his father tirelessly worked a variety of manual labor jobs during his childhood to ensure he could pay the family’s bills and put food on their plates.
Watching him go off to his job every morning, and then return home exhausted later that night, showed McLaren hard work was never going to be easy, but it would pay off.
“He just worked so hard, day in and day out. He still works just as hard as he did when he was 20,” McLaren explains.
“For me, that is where I draw a lot of inspiration – just the way he handles himself. He is a total gentleman. That is the best way I can describe it.
“It is like being at zero. There is no way out of zero, but once you see someone can make something out of nothing, it is right there – the proof is in the pudding. It lets you know that you have just got to work for the things you want.”
While his father dabbled in boxing in his younger days, the elder McLaren never really got involved in any martial arts. However, the Australian flyweight says his role model is definitely a fan these days.
McLaren’s family has always shown their support for his martial arts endeavors, but perhaps the biggest show of support happened in March.
When “Lightning” defeated Gianni Subba at ONE: VISIONS OF VICTORY in Malaysia, his father and brother were right by his side.
“I have been so blessed and lucky to have such a supportive family,” he offers.
“My dad was at my last bout. We got him a corner pass and everything, so it was awesome having him and my brother in my corner. He is just very proud, and that makes me happy when I am striving for success.”
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Because of everything his father has done for him, the Gold Coast submission artist wants to repay him with the best gift possible.
McLaren could be just one win away from competing for the ONE Flyweight World Championship, and he would love nothing more than to see his dad return to his corner on the night he challenges for the belt.
“I would love to have my whole family there,” the Aussie talent says. “I have been so blessed. I got such a great family to support me. Like I said, I never, ever, ever called him my stepdad. He has always been my dad.”
Should McLaren beat DEEP Flyweight Champion Tatsumitsu “The Sweeper” Wada (19-8-2, 1 NC) at ONE: BATTLE FOR THE HEAVENS on Saturday, 7 July, he may clinch a title shot at ONE Flyweight World Champion Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio, and make that dream a reality.