Reinier de Ridder has proven he is the king of the ONE Championship light heavyweight and middleweight MMA divisions. “The Dutch Knight” was 12-0 as a pro, finishing almost all of his opponents along the way, when he first faced two-division champ Aung La N Sang in Oct. 2020. After three minutes and 26 seconds in the first round, N Sang was tapping out to a rear-naked choke to give his opponent the middleweight strap. In Apr. 2021, the two faced again, this time for the light heavyweight title, and the Dutchman walked away the new two-division champ after three rounds of domination.
Since losing both belts to de Ridder, N Sang went on to win a bout with Leandro Ataides in Jul. 2021, before losing a decision to Vitaly Bigdash in Feb. 2022. Bigdash had one win and one loss against N Sang in 2017, before losing by TKO to Ataides in May 2018. Since then, he has gone 3-0, setting up a clash against de Ridder for the middleweight title at ONE 159 on Jul. 22.
The champ-champ de Ridder, who is also a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, has continued to impress. He submitted Kiamrian Abbasov in Feb. 2022. Abbosov is the reigning ONE welterweight champ, and his last loss was four years prior. In March, de Ridder fought to a draw against multiple-time ADCC and IBJJF world champion Andre Galvao in a ONE grappling match. Just going the distance with a grappler of that caliber is a true testament to his skills on the ground. So, next up is Bigdash.
Bigdash, like de Ridder, is a finisher. However, his style is more that of a hard-hitting Russian wrestler. de Ridder is a slick submission grappler with a crisp Dutch striking game. This is going to be a very interesting fight. However, it’s hard to see this as a fight that will go the way of Bigdash.
De Ridder has a whopping four-inch height advantage over the Russian challenger, and, at only 31 years old, he will have youth on his side as well. Bigdash is already 37 years old, and a couple of his losses are to guys that de Ridder dominated. And, after the draw with Galvao, the Dutchman’s grappling confidence will be at an all-time high. It’s easy to predict that if this fight goes the distance, de Ridder will retain by unanimous decision. However, regardless of Bigdash’s wrestling and submission prowess, if de Ridder gets his long arms and legs around him, that could lead to a submission loss.
ONE 159 airs live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium, starting at 6 a.m. ET.
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