3 Reasons Why Shamil Abdulaev Could Be The First Fighter To Beat Reinier De Ridder In MMA
Shamil Abdulaev couldn’t have asked for a bigger challenge in his ONE Championship debut.
On Friday, October 21, at ONE on Prime Video 3, the Russian phenom will challenge undefeated two-division MMA king Reinier de Ridder for the ONE Middleweight World Title – live in U.S. primetime.
While some fans might be quick to count out the newcomer, that doesn’t mean Abdulaev can’t spring the upset. Quite the opposite – the challenger is a well-rounded fighter with loads of experience and strong finishing instincts.
In short, the 32-year-old owns the tools to dethrone De Ridder, but whether he’s actually able to earn the victory will depend on how well he utillizes them.
Here are three of the biggest reasons why Abdulaev could take De Ridder’s middleweight belt and hand the 16-0 superstar the first loss of his mixed martial arts career.
#1 Dynamic Kicks
Abdulaev’s most dangerous offensive skill set is his diverse kicking game.
Whether he’s throwing a spinning back kick, a traditional roundhouse, a question mark kick, or a front snap kick, the challenger can do it all with his legs – and he can do it with blazing speed.
While he tends to open fights with his hands, the Russian relies on his devastating leg attacks to rack up the most damage.
It’s those kicks – or the threat of them – that have earned him an impressive 54 percent knockout rate across 13 professional victories.
Of course, against a BJJ and judo black belt in De Ridder, the newcomer might be hesitant to throw his kicks for fear of a takedown. However, it’s a risk he must take if he wants to ruin the Dutchman’s flawless slate.
Look for Abdulaev to start cautiously in this clash, perhaps even taking a full round before he lets his kicks fly. But considering the speed and power of those strikes, he might only need one clean shot to score a finish.
#2 Dependable Takedown Defense
It’s no secret that De Ridder is one of the best grapplers in all of MMA. And with that in mind, he will certainly aim to put the challenger on the mat.
However, Abdulaev has faced no shortage of takedown specialists in his career to date, and he’s consistently showcased sturdy defense against them. Moreover, he seems to have a knack for countering takedown attempts by landing in top position.
The Russian’s wrestling will be tested versus De Ridder, particularly in the clinch, where the Word Champion tends to score takedowns.
But with every minute the debutant is able to stay standing, his confidence will continue to grow.
#3 Championship Pedigree
The challenger’s 13-1 professional record is strong, but it doesn’t account for his incredibly deep amateur MMA background.
That background established Abdulaev as a top-tier prospect who was expected to eventually challenge for a professional World Title.
A multiple-time Russian and World MMA Champion as an amateur, the 32-year-old has been honing his craft for nearly a decade, competing in dozens of fights, including several one-night tournaments. In many ways, Abdulaev is very much a veteran of the game.
So although he’s entering his first professional World Championship contest, he owns years of high-level experience and hours of real competition time.