‘I Want My Flyweight Belt’ – After Pivotal Win Over Hu Yong, Reece McLaren Determined To Claim MMA Gold

Reece McLaren Hu Yong ONE Fight Night 22 62

Australian scrapper Reece “Lightning” McLaren believes he’s finally found his stride and is ready for the biggest challenge of his career.

This past Friday, May 3, in U.S. primetime at ONE Fight Night 22: Sundell vs. Diachkova on Prime Video, the #4-ranked flyweight MMA contender secured an incredibly hard-fought decision over fifth-ranked “Wolf Warrior” Hu Yong, marking his 10th victory in the world’s largest martial arts organization.

Following the impressive victory at Bangkok, Thailand’s Lumpinee Boxing Stadium, he spoke to ONEFC.com about his performance and where it puts him in the ONE Flyweight MMA World Title picture.

“Lightning” believes that after nearly a decade of competing among the best of the best in ONE, he’s done enough to prove himself worthy of a crack at gold.

He laid out his case for why he deserves a shot at the most prestigious flyweight MMA belt in the world:

“I feel that I am, at any stage, on any win, one step away from that World Title shot, regardless of being ranked or not ranked. I’ve been in ONE now for nearly nine years, [with] 10 wins. It’s been a long journey, man. I feel like I’ve paid my dues. The best flyweights in the world are in ONE Championship. I have been saying that for years.”

Sitting at the top of the flyweight MMA division is all-time great Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson. The American icon hasn’t competed since his unforgettable May 2023 trilogy win over rival Adriano Moraes and has since flirted with the idea of retirement.

McLaren is quick to give his respect to the champion, pushing back against the idea that Johnson is afraid to defend his gold.

But he also says that “Mighty Mouse” needs to decide his next move soon in order to keep the division moving forward:

“No, he’s definitely not afraid. The man’s the greatest mixed martial artist of all time. There’s no way he’d be afraid.

“In the same breath, don’t hold out. Either give us a shot at an interim [title] or just relinquish, man.”

If a World Title showdown with Johnson isn’t next, some fans have wondered if McLaren would entertain a rematch with #3-ranked contender Danny Kingad, who defeated “Lightning” in 2019 via razor-close decision.

Naturally, the Australian would love a chance to avenge that loss, but his ultimate focus remains on the coveted golden belt.

He said:

“I think everyone knows I won that fight. I think he’s been hiding up in the mountains ever since I’ve been calling for that fight.

“Like I said, I’m not here to wait in any line. I’m not here to play any game. I want that belt, man. I want my flyweight belt.”

McLaren Proud To Get A Win For Australia

Beyond the World Title implications of his win, Reece McLaren came into his battle against Hu Yong with some extra pressure on his shoulders.

With Australian fighters Alex Roberts and Izaak Michell each falling in their respective recent World Title fights, as well as “Mini T” Danial Williams and Duke Didier both suffering defeats in their last outings, Australia was in desperate need of a win at ONE Fight Night 22.

“Lightning” admits that, for him, ending Australia’s losing streak was more important than ending Hu’s winning streak:

“[Danial Williams] had said [to] get Australia back in the win column. I think Australia in ONE was on a bit of a losing streak. I think we’d lost our last four fights. So for me, that was more important than trying to snap his win [streak], if you could believe that or not. I don’t want to feel like I carried that with me, as I was just very much focused on this fight.”

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