MANILA, Philippines – An injury to Kairat Akhmetov has paved the way for Reece McLaren to challenge Danny Kingad in the semifinals of the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix on August 2, when ONE: Dawn of Heroes is held at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Akhmetov was forced to withdraw from the tournament, and McLaren stepped up to take the place of the injured Kazakh.
McLaren is a highly decorated martial artist, claiming the Eternal MMA and XFL bantamweight championships before making his ONE Championship debut. He emerged on the global stage in spectacular fashion, scoring a stunning upset by submitting Mark Striegl for a hugely impressive win.
He continued that trend of success against highly regarded prospect Muin Gafurov, and earned a shot at the ONE bantamweight world championship against dominant titleholder Bibiano Fernandes. McLaren gave the living legend an incredibly tough test, but narrowly missed out on gold via split decision.
Kingad, meanwhile, began training in wushu at the famed Team Lakay in 2012, and went on to win gold medals in several local tournaments.
Inspired by the success of his esteemed teammates such as former ONE lightweight world champion Eduard Folayang, he then turned his attention to the cage. Kingad made a successful start to his professional career in 2014, debuting with ONE Championship on the way to an impressive 8-0 record.
This earned him a shot at the ONE flyweight world championship against Adriano Moraes, but the Igorot warrior unfortunately failed in his first bid at world title glory.
Now, "The King" is back on the title hunt. After getting past Senzo Ikeda in the first round of the ONE flyweight world grand prix, Kingad will have to defeat McLaren next in order to clinch a finals berth.
Also in action at ONE: Dawn of Heroes is former ONE flyweight world champion Geje Eustaquio, who will face off against Japan's Yuya Wakamatsu in an alternate bout in the Grand Prix.
Eustaquio is one of the top flyweights in ONE Championship who has faced the creme of the crop in the division. In his most recent outing, Eustaquio outpointed South Korean competitor Kyu Sung Kim to win by unanimous decision.
Now the 30-year-old has the chance to climb his way back up the flyweight ladder. Standing in his way is Wakamatsu, who is eager for a victory against a top talent.
Holding a professional record of 10-4, Wakamatsu is an aggressive knockout artist with shocking power. He is seeking his first victory in ONE Championship.
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