Aleksi Toivonen will be going in search of his second straight ONE Championship win next week. But he will also be returning after a 15 month layoff after suffering an injury before the pandemic.

The Finnish flyweight faces Reece McLaren at ONE: ‘Reign of Dynasties’. He says he was surprised to be matched with the former bantamweight title challenger at this stage,

“I’m happy, satisfied, and grateful for the opportunity (but) 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.”

Fitness is not a concern for Toivonen, who says he has been ready to fight for some time,

“I’ve been ready to go for a while. I would’ve been able to compete months and months ago.”

Limited training 

He is based at Evolve MMA in Singapore. Covid-19 restrictions remain in place and Toivonen says there have been some limitations that have affected his fight camp,

“The training has been good considering the situation. But of course, it’s a bit limited,” the Finn says.

“It’s mostly been strength and conditioning and overall striking drills. We’re doing the best we can considering the situation, but we’re mostly focusing on striking and conditioning.”

Best man

Toivonen is primarily a grappler but says he hasn’t been able to work on his submission skills as much as he would have liked,

“My strength is always my grappling. I hope we get a chance to test each other a bit when it goes to the ground and see technically where we’re both at but let’s just say I’m a grappler without a grappling camp this time. We’ll see what kind of tricks I bring into the cage.”

Toivonen is adamant he will be able to finish McLaren but knows it won’t be an easy night,

“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.”