Reece McLaren Plans To Showcase Evolution In Rematch With ‘Stuck In The Mud’ Kairat Akhmetov

Reece McLaren celebrates win over Windson Ramos

Reece McLaren wants to earn a ONE Flyweight World Title shot – along with redemption against an old foe – when he returns to the Circle on Friday, May 5.

The #4-ranked contender has been among the division’s top tier for years, but he knows that taking out #2-ranked Kairat Akhmetov at ONE Fight Night 10 would prove that he’s ready for the next step.

McLaren lost a unanimous decision to “The Kazakh” when they first met back in 2019.

However, the BJJ black belt has worked hard to develop his striking alongside Muay Thai legend John Wayne Parr at home in Australia and believes his all-around MMA game has elevated to an entirely new level.

With that in mind, he predicts the rematch with Akhmetov at 1stBank Center in Colorado will be a completely different story.

“Lightning” said:

“It was a long time ago when we fought for the first time. I felt him. I know what he’s bringing to the table. I don’t think he knows what I’m bringing to the table this time.

“I know exactly where I went wrong and what happened. So I instantly grew from it. And I’m super pumped to get back in there with him and test this new skill.

“I’ve just improved everything. I’m putting it all together, bridging all the gaps. I’m excited about this one.”

While McLaren thinks his own skill set has leveled up since the first encounter four years ago, he hasn’t seen the same type of change in Akhmetov’s game.

The 31-year-old can’t wait to showcase that difference when he squares off with the former ONE Flyweight World Champion at ONE’s first show on United States soil.

He explained:

I think it’s unrecognizable [how much I’ve changed]. I think I’ve shown that I’m more diverse. I’m different. Totally different. I don’t want to bag on Akhmetov, but with all respect to him, it’s like, ‘Man, you’re still the same.’

“He’s a little stuck in the mud. I’ll make him look more stuck in the mud this time.”

Reece McLaren Eyes World Title Shot With Win In Colorado

Reece McLaren has the ONE Flyweight World Title in his sights – and it’s now within touching distance. 

With four stoppage wins in his last five outings, “Lightning” knows he’s laid a strong foundation. And given that Kairat Akhmetov boasts an impressive five-fight winning streak, the Australian expects their contest to produce the next challenger.

He said:

“I’ll be on a three-fight win streak [if I beat Akhmetov]. I will have just beaten the number two. So that has to put me first in line.

“I truly believe the winner of this one will be fighting for gold. So yeah, even more reason to tune in.”

MMA legend Demetrious Johnson is set to defend the divisional gold against Adriano Moraes in the main event of ONE Fight Night 10, which could bring “Lightning” even closer to his goal.

Success on the same bill would position him as a top contender – and he’ll even be ready to step in if the opportunity presents itself. 

McLaren added:

“I feel so honored to be asked to be on this card. To be given the opportunity that if the main events falls out, we may get a bit of a look in. It’s goosebumps sort of stuff.

“I think I’ll match up great against [Johnson or Moraes]. I have a big left foot and a bigger right hand, and I’m learning to make it count.”

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