Despite the recent change of opponent in his return to the ONE Championship cage on March 9, 2018, Filipino-Australian dynamo Reece “Lightning” McLaren, 26, keeps his sights on having his hand raised in triumph. He was originally penciled to challenge Adriano Moraes, 28, for the ONE Flyweight World Championship in the main event of “ONE: Visions of Victory” but the Brazilian champion pulled out of the contest due to an injury.
“I am slightly disappointed,” McLaren said of the cancelled bout. “But it is safety first. If I was the one sick or injured, I would not compete either, so I hope he recovers fast and gets back on track.”
ONE Championship found a late replacement in Malaysia’s Gianni Subba, 25, who was supposed to duke it out with former world title contender Danny Kingad, 22, on the same card that is set to take place at the newly-renovated Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The resident of Gold Coast, Australia admitted that there was a tinge of disappointment when he received the news that Moraes was forced to withdraw from the championship clash.
“I was excited about my bout with Adriano Moraes because it would have been a clash of two best flyweights that are entering their primes,” McLaren said. “However, there are circumstances that are beyond our control. It is what it is.”
In November 2017 on the undercard of “ONE: Legends of the World” in Manila, Philippines, McLaren recreated himself as a flyweight, making his presence felt in the weight class immediately against top contender Anatpong “Mak Mak” Bunrad, 31. With a mere eight seconds remaining in the very first round, McLaren caught Bunrad in an anaconda choke and then transitioned into a D’arce choke to force the tap.
Based on the impressive outcome of his flyweight debut against Bunrad, McLaren was awarded with a shot at the division’s top prize. Even though the Australian fighter lost his opportunity to vie for a world title for the second time in his professional career, he took the situation in stride and wished Moraes a speedy recovery.