Parr Hyped To See McLaren Showcase ‘Next Level’ Striking In Crucial Rematch With Akhmetov
Legendary Muay Thai fighter John Wayne Parr can’t wait to watch his student and #4-ranked flyweight MMA contender Reece McLaren show the world just how much he’s developed.
On May 5, McLaren will battle former divisional king and current #2 contender Kairat Akhmetov in a critical clash at ONE Fight Night 10: Johnson vs. Moraes III on Prime Video – the promotion’s first live card in North America.
Set to go down at 1stBank Center in Colorado, this battle is a rematch of their 2019 ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix quarterfinal, which Akhmetov won by unanimous decision after controlling much of the action on the feet.
However, McLaren has made big changes since that defeat. Already a feared submission specialist, he began training under Parr at Boonchu Muay Thai Gym in Australia last year, hoping to add some firepower to his stand-up game.
Now four years later, the retired striker says “Lightning” is incredibly motivated to even the score with his rival and punch his ticket to a ONE Flyweight World Title challenge:
“Reece wants it so badly. He wants to put himself in that elimination spot because he could be fighting for the title next.”
Indeed, both fighters are well positioned for a crack at 26 pounds of gold.
McLaren has won two in a row – showcasing massive improvements in his striking – while “The Kazakh” has earned five consecutive victories to remain near the top of the division.
With so much on the line, Parr is confident that his student’s evolution on the feet will be the difference in this rematch:
“[McLaren’s] striking is at the next level now. His ground game has always been amazing. And now his striking is quite strong as well. He’s putting these combinations together very well. And he can switch it from southpaw to orthodox.”
Looking back on the pair’s first bout, “The Gunslinger” is well aware that McLaren struggled in the striking department.
But under his expert guidance, Parr has turned the BJJ black belt into an all-around MMA threat who’s capable of ending the contest with a trademark submission or a highlight-reel knockout.
“Hopefully, in his fight, depending on where it goes, even on his feet, Reece now has more confidence in his new tools. So he really likes the striking element. But if it goes to the ground, he’s happy to be anywhere – striking or submissions. Either way, he’s world-class.”
Parr Pumped For Fight-Week Vibes In The U.S.
With a potential ONE Flyweight World Title shot on the line, the stakes are already sky-high for the matchup between Reece McLaren and Kairat Akhmetov.
Adding to the excitement is that both men will be competing in front of American fans for the first time as ONE makes its historic debut in the United States.
Moreover, the winner will certainly pay close attention to the evening’s blockbuster main event – a World Title trilogy fight between reigning flyweight king Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson and former titleholder Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes.
For his part, John Wayne Parr can’t wait for event week to arrive, knowing the buzz surrounding this massive card will be unlike anything else:
“It’s going to be every fighter when you’re in the hotel, and you’re hanging out with all the fighters and trainers from all over the world. And just to be in that environment, the excitement is priceless. It’s so good. It’s such a positive presence on one side.”