One Championship announced earlier this week that Aussie fighters Reece McLaren and Natalie Gonzales Hills will be returning to the cage as part of One: Global Rivals which takes place at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila on April 15.
“My opponent (Gaurov) is very good, he’s 10 – 0 and very well-rounded. I’m extremely excited,” McLaren told Fight News Australia.
After impressing the fans in Manila last year the 24-year-old is excited to be back in the Philippines to do it all again.
“Fighting for One is like a dream come true. Coming back to Manila is like the cherry on top. I really wanted to return to the Philippines, the fans were awesome.”
Hills will be looking to get back into the winners column after being beaten by rising star Angela Lee last November in her One debut. It was a fight that taught Hills plenty of lessons and gave her no shortage of motivation.
“Since last year, I have invested a lot of time in wrestling and training with girls getting ready for the Rio Olympics which has been a wonderful opportunity. Fighting up a weight class, I didn’t feel as strong as my opponents so I have also been working with a great strength and conditioning coach too,” Hills explained to Fight News Australia.
“The biggest thing I learned from my fight against Angela was to keep my head! I rushed in there and although I landed some strikes and my aggression got me into top position briefly, I got swept and the rest, which led to the twister. If I had kept my composure and stuck to the game plan, it would have ended better. I have been doing bikram yoga and started meditating to help with my focus. The loss also motivated me to up my grappling game! I have learnt a lot from losing and know that I am a more complete fighter because of it.”
The Sydney-sider will be making the drop back down to atomweight, her preferred weight-class, to fight April Osenio an up and coming prospect from the Philippines. After years of taking fights out of her weight class and on short notice, Hills is relishing the opportunity to take a fight on her terms.
“This is really a turning point in my career. I’ve worked really hard to get the opportunities I have now. I’ve taken late notice fights, fights in higher weight classes, I’ve juggled work around training for years and now it’s finally coming together. Fighting in the Philippines isn’t just a tick off my bucket list, it really shows me how far I’ve come and is a dream come true,” Hills said.
The show’s main event will see One welterweight champion Ben Askren return to defend his title against Russia’s Nikolay Aleksakhin. The event can be streamed live on 15 April (AEST) via the One Championship website.