‘A Big Turning Point’ – Reece McLaren Aims To Enter World Title Picture With High-Stakes Win Over Hu Yong

Kairat Akhmetov Reece McLaren ONE Fight Night 10 67

Reece “Lightning” McLaren knows exactly where his advantages lie in his upcoming showdown with surging knockout artist “Wolf Warrior” Hu Yong.

Set to take place in U.S. primetime this Friday at ONE Fight Night 22: Sundell vs. Diachkova on Prime Video, that pivotal flyweight MMA contest is McLaren’s chance to end the Chinese star’s rapid rise and solidify his own #4 spot in the divisional rankings.

A former ONE Warrior Series sensation, Hu will enter the bout in Bangkok following three consecutive victories that secured him the #5 ranking in the talent-laden flyweight MMA division.

He earned two of those wins via highlight-reel knockout, proving himself to be a world-class striker.

Never one to mince words, “Lightning” is well aware of his foe’s most dangerous weapons. He told onefc.com:

“Yeah, he looks like he’s a great striker, he has a big right hand and swings for the fences. He’s throwing the kitchen sink at you when he throws.”

While “Wolf Warrior” made waves in 2023, McLaren now finds himself hungry to bounce back.

After scoring back-to-back submission victories in 2022, the Australian veteran dropped a hard-fought decision against Kazakh wrestling powerhouse Kairat Akhmetov last May at ONE Fight Night 10.

Given that he’s facing a fellow top-five contender this Friday, McLaren sees the matchup with Hu as a real make-or-break moment:

“I think he’s on a three-fight win streak. He just beat the guy that beat Yuya [Wakamatsu], so this is a big turning point for myself and him, I believe. Yeah, the sky’s limit after this one if I can get the nod.”

On paper, the fight has all the makings of a classic striker-versus-grappler battle. While Hu is plenty talented on the feet, McLaren is perhaps the division’s most skilled submission artist.

Indeed, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt boasts six submissions across nine total victories in the world’s largest martial arts organization.

Whether it’s a choke from the back or a ligament-snapping leg lock, “Lightning” is supremely confident in his ability to find the finish at a moment’s notice:

“Honestly, I think I’ve got the wood over pretty much most of the ranked ONE Championship flyweights in the grappling aspect. Jiu-jitsu, submissions, yeah, give me an inch, and I’ll take that mile.”

Despite his obvious advantages in the grappling department, the 32-year-old is still a well-rounded mixed martial artist and isn’t about to give away his game plan for this high-stakes battle.

McLaren added:

“Tune in, and you’ll see. I think it’s gonna be a bashing.”

Reece McLaren Targets Even Bigger Fights Next

With 15 appearances under his belt in ONE, Reece McLaren believes that he’s finally knocking on the door of a World Title shot.

Following his loss to Kairat Akhmetov last year, the Australian relocated his camp from Boonchu Gym to Queensland’s CMBT Training Centre.

“Lightning” reports that he’s been reinvigorated by the change – and that he’s poised to make a run toward the top of the flyweight MMA division:

“Yeah, I always think I’m one fight away from [the World Title shot]. Honestly, I’m trying not to think too much into it. I’m just taking it one fight at a time. Honestly, after changing camp, new year, we’re so ready to just get in and smash everyone.”

A victory over Hu Yong at ONE Fight Night 22 would certainly move McLaren one massive step closer to a crack at gold.

But if the World Title shot isn’t next, “Lightning” has his sights set on two men who defeated him in the past – #2-ranked Yuya Wakamatsu and #3-ranked Danny Kingad.

He explained:

“I’ve wanted that Danny rematch since day one, and he’s hiding up in those mountains. I’d love to run it back with Yuya. That was a hell of a fight, and I think we’ll put on another hell of a fight, and we’ll see who’s improved the most.

“I know I’ve definitely improved since that one, and he’s definitely improved since that one. But yeah, I feel new tactics, new me. It’ll be a different story for both of them.”

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