Aleksi “The Giant” Toivonen was surprised to hear that he’s facing Filipino-Australian flyweight Reece “Lightning” McLaren in his return to ONE Championship.
But he’s not one to complain. In fact, he’s grateful for the opportunity to challenge one of the top guys in the division – even after being shelved due to an injury.
Toivonen vows to make the most of the opportunity as he looks to take out the fifth-ranked flyweight in the co-main event of ONE: REIGN OF DYNASTIES on October 9.
“I’m happy, satisfied, and grateful for the opportunity,” Toivonen told ONEFC.com.
“I was honestly a bit surprised coming off a 15-month layoff and a big injury that ONE is giving me an opportunity to fight a top-five opponent. It’s a great fight and a good chance to test myself against one of the best guys in the world.”
In his debut, the 28-year-old Finn needed less than a round to submit Akihiro “Superjap” Fujisawa at ONE: MASTERS OF DESTINY in July 2019. However, his momentum was derailed when he tore his ACL during training.
It didn’t help that COVID-19 halted everyone’s plans, forcing him on the sidelines even longer – but now he insists he’s more than ready to compete.
“It’s been perfect. I’ve been ready to go for a while. But it was unlucky timing [with COVID-19]. I would’ve been able to compete months and months ago,” Toivonen said.
Style-wise, it will be a battle between two submission specialists who have 14 combined finishes. And make no mistake about it, the 28-year-old will be gunning for the finish.
“I want to get the finish like my previous fights,” Toivonen said.
“I’m going to get a finish, but I think it’s going to be a highly competitive fight. I think in many aspects, we’re going to test each other, and I think the best man is going to win.”
A lot has been said about Toivonen being the next big thing in the division, and if he beats McLaren, he will prove the hype is real.
“It’s my first opportunity to compete against a world-ranked opponent. So of course, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Toivonen said. “I hope that after the fight I can jump over the line and steal a spot in the top five.”
Catch ONE: REIGN OF DYNASTIES on 9 October for free by downloading the ONE Super App.
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