Filipino-Australian mixed martial artist Reece “Lightning” McLaren, 26, was originally scheduled to challenge Brazilian fighter Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes, 29, before the latter was dethroned as the ONE Flyweight World Champion. However, their bout was cancelled.
Moraes and McLaren were supposed to headline “ONE: Visions of Victory” on March 9, 2018 at the Axiata Area in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Due to a knee injury, the Brazilian contender had to pull out of the contest and was replaced by Malaysian flyweight Gianni Subba, 25, who lost to McLaren via arm-triangle choke submission.
On June 23, 2018, Moraes returned to the cage and lost his belt via split decision to his Filipino challenger Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio, 29, who is now the new ONE Flyweight World Champion. Another rematch is expected between the two ONE Championship flyweight stars but a title shot for McLaren also seems to be imminent.
When McLaren made his ONE Championship debut, he competed in the bantamweight division. He submitted his Filipino-American opponent Mark “Mugen” Striegl, 30, at “ONE: Spirit of Champions” on December 11, 2015.
On April 15, 2016, McLaren had his second ONE Championship win as a bantamweight. He defeated his Tajik opponent Muin “Tajik” Gafurov, 23, via unanimous decision at “ONE: Global Rivals.”
But the two victories in the bantamweight division were followed by two losses. McLaren lost to reigning ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes, 38, of Brazil via split decision at “ONE: Age of Domination” on December 2, 2016 and to Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon, 30, of the Philippines via knockout at “ONE: Quest for Greatness” on August 18, 2017.
After the losses to Fernandes and Belingon, McLaren successfully moved to the flyweight division. In his first assignment as a flyweight, which was at “ONE: Legends of the World” on November 10, 2017, the Filipino-Australian fighter submitted his Thai opponent Anatpong “Mak Mak” Bunrad, 32, via brabo choke.
Currently, McLaren holds a professional MMA record of 11 wins and 5 losses. His third ONE Championship bout as a flyweight is scheduled on July 7, 2018 at “ONE: Battle for the Heavens” at the Tianhe Gymnasium in Guangzhou, China where he is set to face promotional debutant Tatsumitsu “The Sweeper” Wada, 29, of Japan.
If McLaren wins at “ONE: Battle for the Heavens,” it is more likely that his title shot will happen before Eustaquio and Moraes fight in another rematch. But beating Wada is not an easy task as the Japanese contender is riding an eight-bout winning streak.
Beating Eustaquio is even a harder task as the reigning ONE Flyweight World Champion has just made a mark as ONE Championship’s King of Rematch. Representing the famed Team Lakay of Baguio City, Philippines, he won three rematches in the promotion, which were against Moraes, Bunrad and Kairat “The Kazakh” Akhtemov, 30, of Kazakhstan.
Eustaquio was crowned the new ONE Flyweight World Champion on June 23, 2018 at “ONE: Pinnacle of Power.” Watch a recap of the event by Michael Schiavello and Mitch “The Dragon” Chilson here: