Reinier de Ridder has been peerless since arriving in ONE Championship. The dominant Dutchman has ascended to superstardom and put himself in the discussion of being the best pound-for-pound athlete in mixed martial arts today by becoming a two-division world champion.
His next task will be his first defense of the ONE light heavyweight championship at ONE on Prime Video 5 on Friday, Dec. 2. “The Dutch Knight” will attempt to fend off the challenge from ONE interim heavyweight champion Anatoly Malykhin in the main event in Manila.
ONE’s heavyweight division has been in a bit of uncertainty of late, with both the world champion, Arjan Bhullar, and the interim titleholder holding belts. But according to de Ridder, there is only one true king of the hulking division.
“Malykhin is the real heavyweight champ as far as I’m concerned, because Bhullar has been inactive for so long. So, yeah, it’s the right fight. Yes, it’s a cool fight to make,” de Ridder said.
The reigning two-division king knows where his bread is buttered. He is an accomplished grappler who has strangled almost everyone who has entered the Circle with him. But Malykhin’s power presents a clear danger.
De Ridder sees some similarities to a previous opponent of his that may allow him to be better prepared for the heavy strikes coming his way.
“Well, he’s dangerous, of course. We’ve seen in his previous fights, he knocks people out. He’s wild. He’s explosive. He’s an interesting opponent, but he doesn’t bring anything really special to the table,” said the Dutch Knight.
“He has a hard right hand, pretty similar to Aung La [N Sang], he needs a little bit of space to leap in with a large, loopy right hand, which he catches people with pretty often. And then Aung La has better kicks. And he has a better-left hand, better left hook. So, striking-wise, I need to get close in my range, keep him at the end of my punches, be sharp, and make sure I mix it up with my takedowns.”
As a two-division champion, the options are plentiful for de Ridder. But the Dutch Knight has routinely called out for a shot at the heavyweight gold.
As he prepares for his staggering third World Title defense this year, the Breda native sees this bout as a way to force his way into the heavyweight picture and chase history as the sport’s first-ever three-division champion.
“I think if I put him away decisively like I’m planning to, then maybe Arjan would be nice if we can ever see him in the cage again. But yeah, we’ll have to see how this fight turns out. But if it happens the way I envisioned it, I don’t think another fight is needed,” the ONE middleweight & light titleholder said.
But first will come Malykhin and the light heavyweight title defense.
As confident as ever, the Dutchman sees an early end to the action. Although there will be a size difference between the two, De Ridder actually sees his height and length to be more dangerous for his Russian foe. And it will lead to another dominant showcase for the superstar.
“You’ll see me dominant from the first second. So in those first few seconds, those are going to be very explosive and very, very, very important. And I think I can hit him with some good stuff because I’m more rangy. I think I can get in his face and hit him with some good jabs and with some good kicks. Clinch him, take him down, I see me controlling him on the floor, hitting him with some elbows, hitting him with some knees. And I see myself choking him out at the end of the first,” de Ridder said.
ONE on Prime Video 5: De Ridder vs. Malykhin airs free to all Amazon Prime members in the U.S. and Canada on Friday, Dec. 2, at 8 p.m. ET.
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