Reece McLaren Believes Kairat Akhmetov Is 'Still The Same' Ahead Of ONE Fight Night 10 Rematch
#2-ranked flyweight contender Kairat Akhmetov meets #4-ranked Reece McLaren in a rematch that could propel the winner to a title shot. It will be the second time the two have scrapped in ONE, and McLaren believes he has evolved into a different competitor since their first meeting.
"Yeah. It was a long time ago that we fought for the very first time. I felt him. I know what he's bringing to the table. I don't think he knows what I'm bringing to the table this time," said McLaren.
"I don't want to bag him, but with all respect to him, it's like, man, you're still the same."
McLaren lost a decisive three-round battle on the judge's scorecards. But the matchup served as a learning experience for the Aussie. "Lightning" has been able to reflect on their first meeting to see where he went wrong and assess where he can be more effective in the rematch.
"I was too floaty. I knew I had power, but I didn't really believe it or trust it. A bit of a wrong game plan, and it was really interesting. So I had learned this, like, shooting kind of technique, and it wasn't really a strategic technique. I don't know, it was more like a technical thing," said McLaren.
"And I was doing that, and then when I shot, I didn't shoot how I normally shoot. Like, why is this? And then I went back and kind of thought through my fight camp, and I wasn't shooting the way I normally shoot."
One reason McLaren enters more confident is his recent change in gyms. The 31-year-old has been learning under John Wayne Parr at Boonchu Gym and is rounding out his game. The improvements have been evident with back-to-back stoppage victories in 2022.
Competing against the #2-ranked contender at ONE Fight Night 10, McLaren realizes that a shot at the gold could be near.
"I'll be on a three-fight win streak. I just beat number two. So it has to put me first in line. I truly believe the winner of this one will be fighting for gold. So yeah, even more reason to tune in," said “Lightning.”
McLaren promises fans that the first flyweight bout of the night will be exciting. With the stakes set high, the Australian athlete wants to grab the brass ring. The ability to do so on Prime Video during ONE's massive U.S. debut is just the cherry on top.
"I feel so honored to be asked to be on this card. And to be given the opportunity that if the main [event] falls out, we may get a bit of a look in. It's goosebumps, that sort of stuff. When they announced that they were going to America, I thought there was no way I'll be on that card, and in the next minute, here we are," said McLaren.
ONE Fight Night 10 airs live on Prime Video on Friday, May 5. The action begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and is free for all Amazon Prime subscribers in the U.S. and Canada.
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