Australia-based Filipino fighter Reece McLaren vows to be better when he competes for the first time this year against Aleksi Toivonen of Finland in the co-main event of ONE: Reign of Dynasties October 9.
McLaren last competed in December 2019, scoring a win over Gurdarshan Mangat. He said the long break has given him a chance to work on his game even more.
“I made a few leaps and bounds in a few aspects of mixed martial arts, so it definitely made me go back, slow things down, and study positions more,” McLaren told ONEFC.com.
“I think [the fans are] going to see a better, improved me. In the last six months, I’ve made some massive, massive gains.”
When the pair clash next week, it will be a battle between two top-notch grapplers. Six of Toivonen’s seven wins came from submissions, and McLaren knows that an opponent of that pedigree should not be underestimated.
“He looks strong and he looks like he takes the back really well,” McLaren said. “He grapples very well. Being a European champion – that’s a great achievement. I know the grappling circuit in Europe is very high-level. They get all the big guns going to the Europeans, so that means he’s a very good grappler.”
But McLaren is not counting out the possibility of gutting it out on the feet with his Finnish opponent.
There’s a good chance that their grappling skills could cancel each other out, and if the match swings into the striking department, McLaren has no problem standing and trading.
“I think it could go either way. It’s either going to be a stand-up battle as the two grapplers equal each other, or it’s going to turn into a massive grappling match,” McLaren said.
“I’m a mixed martial artist, so wherever I can take it to have the edge, I’ll take it there.”
Catch ONE: REIGN OF DYNASTIES on 9 October for free by downloading the ONE Super App.