‘I Pinch Myself’ – Reece McLaren Still In Awe Of Mentor John Wayne Parr

Reece McLaren celebrates win over Windson Ramos

Sometimes an athlete must make a change to realize their full potential, and #4-ranked flyweight MMA contender Reece McLaren believes he’s doing just that under the tutelage of Muay Thai legend John Wayne Parr.

The BJJ black belt – who will face #2-ranked Kairat Akhmetov at ONE Fight Night 10: Johnson vs. Moraes III on May 5 – now trains at Parr’s Boonchu Gym, where he is focused on taking his striking game to the next level.

McLaren has looked up to his fellow Australian since childhood, and they now share the mats every day as he prepares for a pivotal battle at 1stBank Center in Colorado.

Still in awe that he’s working so closely with the Muay Thai pioneer, “Lightning” told ONEFC.com:

“Yeah, [he was an idol of mine growing up] big time. Everyone watched “The Contender Asia.” Watching that on a small island, I knew that when I moved to the mainland, I had to learn martial arts. 

“Things ran their course [at my old gym], and now I’ve got a key to Boonchu. I pinch myself just about every morning when I look at that key and open the gym.”

Although McLaren had already achieved a lot in his ONE career, he felt like he was beginning to drift around without a firm foundation.

Wanting to base himself in the right place and improve his all-around MMA skill set, the 31-year-old bumped into the Aussie icon. They hit it off, and “Lightning’s” move to Boonchu Gym revitalized his love for the sport.

He explained:

“By no means was it an easy decision. I kind of floated a little bit, and then one fight night, we bumped into Wayne and Angie [Parr’s wife]. We just got chatting, and it was a perfect fit.

“It comes down to that whole not becoming a Ronin thing for me. The camaraderie and having a good culture at a place where we’re perfecting the art is amazing. It makes you want to keep coming back and keep getting better.”

McLaren Looks Up To Parr As A Coach And Family Man

Reece McLaren and John Wayne Parr bonded quickly, with Parr’s infectious positivity and warm personality drawing his new student in.

And the more the flyweight star got to know “The Gunslinger,” the more he realized it was a perfect situation to help push his career forward. 

McLaren said:

“We get along really well. And it’s just something that I’ve known that’s been missing in my training. It’s really refreshing to have Wayne present every day. He takes so much time out for me. I get blown away by his generosity all the time. He’s quite amazing.

“He is a family man. His presence is something different. If you’re in the room with him, it’s like the room is brighter. It’s awesome.”

Getting along socially and enjoying each other’s company is one thing, but it wouldn’t have worked for McLaren if there was no benefit to his skill set.

Of course, striking is Parr’s bread and butter, which pairs nicely with “Lightning’s” grappling prowess. Plus, McLaren thinks his coach’s eye for mechanics and the crossover between techniques have elevated all aspects of his MMA repertoire. 

He added:

“My clinching [has improved]. Yeah, if you believe it or not, I’m finding out that in Muay Thai and grappling there are heaps of things that just transfer straight across. 

“It’s not just the striking that’s got better. It’s my clinch game, distance game, and balance. It’s everything.”

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