Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Reece McLaren is a highly-decorated martial artist, claiming the Eternal MMA and XFL Bantamweight Championships before making his ONE Championship debut.
Reece was born in Brisbane, Australia, and moved to Christmas Island with his mother when he was three years old. He has incredibly fond memories of his childhood, and despite his mom, Kacy, being a single working mother, Reece always felt loved and cared for.
Eventually, his mom met his dad, they got married, and Kacy gave birth to Reece’s little brother, completing the family that Reece says he couldn’t live without.
Growing up on “The Rock,” Reece was always in the water, surfing, fishing, and jumping off the jetty.
At the age of 12, Reece started training in Kung Fu and performed in the island lion dance for the Kung Fu club. At 15, the security manager introduced him to MMA and the world of BJJ.
Reece was self-taught until he moved to mainland Australia, where he joined Kachi Mixed Martial Arts and began chasing his dream.
To pay for his training, Reece started an apprenticeship in air conditioning and refrigeration. He won every major BJJ competition as a white belt, all the way to purple belt, where the competition thinned due to a lack of brown or black belts in his weight division. That’s when his transition into MMA began.
Reece had his first MMA fight at the age of 19 and won. He took his next two fights on short notice, winning one and losing the other.
Continuing to fight professionally on the local Australian MMA circuit, he finished his trade and spent a month at Team Alpha Male in the US, training under the guidance of Urijah Faber.
Upon his return, he moved to the Gold Coast to train full-time at Pumma, under Vincent Perry. There, he had a team of some of Australia’s best fighters to train with and refine his skills as an athlete.
Shortly after this, Reece signed with ONE Championship as a bantamweight.
He quickly established himself as a contender by winning via submission against Filipino superstar Mark Streigl and followed it with a win via decision against Miun Gafarov. He then earned a shot at the world title against Bibiano Fernandes. Despite losing via split decision, this fight was considered the second-best fight of 2016 and showed the world that Reece was an up-and-coming talent to watch.
Reece had one more fight at bantamweight before moving to flyweight, where he debuted with a first-round submission against Anatpong Bunrad.
This earned him a shot at flyweight king Adriano Moraes, but Moraes pulled out, and Reece fought Gianni Subba instead, winning with a second-round submission.
After defeating Tatsimudu Wada, Reece went on to compete in the Flyweight World Grand Prix.
During this time, Reece met his partner, Sarah, who became a source of motivation for him as he pursued the flyweight belt.
In 2019, Reece fought ex-world champion Kairat Akhmetov in the first round of the World Grand Prix but lost via decision.
He was given a second chance in the semi-finals due to Kairat pulling out but came up short in a controversial loss to Danny Kingad via split decision in a gripping fight.
Later that year, Reece faced Indian-Canadian superstar Gurdarshan Mangat and won in the first round with an RNC submission.
As COVID-19 hit and the world shut down, Reece returned to work, waiting to compete again.
In 2020, Reece fought Aleksi Toivonen and won with a first-round KO (knee to the body).
In December 2020, Reece and his partner learned they were expecting a baby. While excited about
the news, Reece had to navigate training in lockdown, traveling to compete under strict restrictions, and spending over a month away from his partner in April 2021 in Singapore against Japan’s #1 fighter, Yuya Wakamatsu.
The fight ended in a loss via decision, but it was everything the fans wanted and more.
After this fight, Reece did some soul-searching and made the difficult decision to leave his coach and team at Pumma.
He found new inspiration and excitement when he joined the team at Boonchu Gym in Burleigh Heads, under the masterful instruction of his new coaches, the legendary John Wayne Parr and his wife Angela Parr, both Muay Thai world champions and legends of the sport.
After taking some time to be there for his partner and the birth of his daughter, Dakota Rae, Reece was finally able to compete again without having to quarantine.
His first fight in 2022 was against Shaolin monk Xie Wei, where Reece scored a massive comeback from an early knockdown and won by 1st round RNC.
He then went on to showcase his ever-improving striking against Brazilian BJJ world champion Windson Ramos, winning by TKO retirement after round two when Ramos could not continue to fight due to damage to his foot.
Reece is now ranked number 4 in the ONE flyweight division and is currently training for his rematch against number 2 Kairat Akhmetov. The implications of this fight could lead to the long-awaited world title bout once again.