Australian star Reece “Lightning: McLaren was already in a prime position to challenge for the ONE Flyweight World Title, but that has not stopped him from taking another bout.
The 11-5 contender positioned himself for a shot at the title thanks to an impressive victory over fellow contender Gianni Subba. Now, despite being in pole position to face newly-crowned ONE Flyweight World Champion Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio, McLaren returns to action at ONE: BATTLE FOR THE HEAVENS.
The Australian will face off against DEEP Flyweight Champion Tatsumitsu “The Sweeper” Wada in China’s Guangzhou Tianhe Gymnasium on Saturday, 7 July.
It is not the first time McLaren has said yes to a bout when he had a title shot within his grasp.
He looked all set to face Adriano Moraes for the title earlier in the year, only for injury to the Brazilian to scupper that prospect.
Instead of sitting tight and waiting for “Mikinho” to return, he instead agreed to face Subba in his opponent’s own backyard of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
“They basically asked if I wanted to wait or take another bout,” the 26-year-old explains.
“I am not really keen on waiting around for anything, so I just took one. If an opponent changes, then an opponent changes.
“I just want to keep testing myself. I am so competitive. It is like, do you want to compete or not? Of course, I want to compete. Let’s do this, whenever.”
McLaren went into the bout with everything to lose, but produced an outstanding performance to submit Subba via second-round arm-triangle choke.
Once again, “Lightning” looked primed and ready for a title shot, but he had to wait until then-champion Moraes and the interim titleholder Eustaquio faced off to unify the World Championship belts.
It meant that McLaren was offered the option of another contest and, once again, he happily accepted.
“I do not really want to wait around,” he explains.
“The way I see it is – if you are feeling like you are the champ, then you should be able to beat anyone on any given day.
“My goal is to become the champ, and if I want to be the champ, then I have to be able to step up at any time and beat anyone. Champions train, losers complain.”
Now McLaren faces ONE Championship debutant Wada, who comes into the bout in red-hot form, riding an eight-bout win streak.
It is another dangerous bout for McLaren, who knows that his status as the top flyweight contender in ONE is on the line against a seasoned, decorated opponent.
“He has had a lot of fights and he has a lot of experience. He has some awkward looking stand-up, and I think he has a really good ground game,” he says.
“It is a really good match, and I think it is a really dangerous match. I am always excited for a challenge. Whoever the name, I am happy to buckle in, get set and go.”
The Australian star is a renowned finisher and while he stopped short of offering a fight finish prediction for his bout with Wada, he promised that he will always follow his principles and take any opportunity that presents itself as he looks to improve his already-outstanding 81 percent finish rate.
“I am always in there to look for, and find, the finish,” he says.
“It is the same thing here. I will be in there doing my thing, and if a finish presents itself, I will take it, for sure.”
If he gets past Wada, he should finally get that shot he craves and has been waiting for.
“I am super confident in my skills. I just have to get through this one and hopefully, I will finally get to fight for that gold.”