Reece ‘Lightning’ McLaren will get a shot at redemption when he faces off once again against Kairat Akhmetov during ONE Championship’s showpiece debut in America on May 5th.
The Australian will battle it out against the No.2 ranked flyweight during ONE Fight Night 10: Johnson vs. Moraes III, with both men also on standby for the main event should anything happen to either Demetrious Johnson or Adriano Moraes.
Reece McLaren vs Kairat Akhmetov fight announced for ONE Championship’s debut card in the US
McLaren is coming off a highly successful year, having beaten both Xie Wei and Windson Ramos to firmly entrench himself within the elite of the flyweight division.
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“I was pretty stoked in 2022,” he told ONEFC.com.
“I would have liked to have won a [performance] bonus…but it’s all good. I’ll just try to keep getting better and every single time you’ll see a better me in there.”
The 31-year-old submitted China’s top-ranked flyweight in the first round, before putting on a striking clinic against Ramos over the course of two rounds which left his opponent unable to answer the bell.
“If he had come out in the third, he was going to get more smoke,” McLaren said after the bout.
“He didn’t want any more, so he did the best thing.”
Prior to McLaren’s booking on the historic card – which will feature the trilogy fight between Johnson and Moraes as well as a flyweight Muay Thai World Championship bout between Rodtang Jitmuangnon and Edgar Tabares – the Aussie expressed his desire to be involved in Colorado.
“One of the biggest markets in mixed martial arts is the United States, and just getting there alone is a huge step,” he said.
“I would absolutely love to be on that card. I think you’ll have the most eyes on it.”
McLaren was originally hoping for a fight against Danny Kingad who walked away with a split-decision victory over him four years ago.
However, he has instead been matched up against the Kazakhstan native who also boasts a win over him, having claimed a unanimous decision in March 2019.
The former ONE flyweight world champion made his debut for the promotion in a title fight against Moraes eight years ago.
The 35-year-old won that contest via split-decision although he lost the belt in a rematch three years later after returning from a serious back injury that threatened to prematurely end his career.
Akhmetov has now pieced together a five-fight win streak as he attempts to reclaim the title that he once held with his fight against McLaren helping to decide who the next No.1 contender will be.
Who is Reece McLaren?
Originally hailing from Christmas Island, McLaren discovered his love for mixed martial arts after first being introduced to it by a work colleague in Queensland.
The BJJ black belt has continued to elevate his skill set throughout his 24-fight professional career, recently working with Muay Thai legend John Wayne Parr.
The former Eternal MMA and XFC bantamweight champion made his ONE Championship debut in 2015, beating one of Philippines’ finest in Mark Striegl by submission.
The impressive finish was a sign of things to come with McLaren notching five of his nine wins in the promotion by submission to become one of the most feared and respected practitioners in the game on the ground.
However, in his most recent fight against Ramos, he showcased his ever-evolving ability on the feet with his work with Parr paying dividends.
“I think if you spend enough time doing something, and working with John Wayne Parr, who has been a legend of striking, you’re only going to get better, right?” Johnson said of the No.4 ranked flyweight.
“Reece McLaren, he’s right there. He’s a great athlete…Yeah, his striking is good, man.”
The submission specialist has won four of his last five fights to rise up the rankings and perfectly position himself for an assault on the title in 2023.
Confirmed card for ONE Fight Night 10: Johnson vs. Moraes III
- Demetrious Johnson vs Adriano Moraes [Flyweight World Championship]
- Rodtang Jitmuangnon vs Edgar Tabares [Flyweight Muay Thai World Championship]
- Mikey Musumeci vs Osamah Almarwai [Flyweight Submission Grappling World Championship]
- Kairat Akhmetov vs Reece McLaren [Flyweight]
- Stamp Fairtex vs Alyse Anderson [Atomweight]
- Sage Northcutt vs Ahmed Mujtaba [Lightweight]
- Aung La N Sang vs Fan Rong [Middleweight]
- Reinier de Ridder vs Tye Ruotolo [Middleweight Submission Grappling]