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3 Wins That Earned Vitaly Bigdash His ONE Middleweight World Title Shot At Reinier De Ridder

Jun 9, 2022
Vitaly Bigdash and Aung La N Sang Fight Result at ONE: FULL CIRCLE

Ever since losing his ONE Middleweight World Title to Aung La N Sang in 2017, Vitaly Bigdash has been motivated to get it back.

Five years later, the Russian will get that opportunity when he challenges reigning king Reinier de Ridder in the main event of ONE 159 on Friday, 22 July. 

It hasn’t been easy to reach this point, but the 37-year-old remained focused on his goal and worked hard to climb through the division.

Here’s how Bigdash earned his shot at De Ridder with three crucial victories over top middleweight contenders. 

#1 A Unique Submission Of Yuki Niimura

Bigdash started his run back up the ranks when he faced off against Japan’s Yuki Niimura at ONE: DESTINY OF CHAMPIONS in December 2018.

Niimura was a Pancrase Champion who’d won nine of his past 11 fights – including seven via knockout – but the Russian negated his opponent’s striking threat with an early takedown.

Bigdash then pummeled his foe with punches for the majority of the round until Niimura found some space to attempt an escape. However, the Akhmat Fight Team athlete used the scramble to quickly move to his rival’s back.

From there, Bigdash locked up a triangle choke and scored with some elbows, before wrenching Niimura’s left arm free and securing the finish with a two-pronged rear triangle armbar late in the first round.

#2 Stops Surging Fan Rong With Third-Round Finish

A series of injuries and cancelations held Bigdash back, but at ONE: WINTER WARRIORS II in December 2021, the Russian finally got the ball rolling again. 

He faced off against “King Kong Warrior” Fan Rong, who’d claimed back-to-back wins inside the Circle and was quickly making a name for himself at middleweight. 

However, Bigdash looked as fresh as ever when their contest got underway and threw everything in his arsenal at the Chinese athlete.

The former karate stylist chopped away with kicks, unloaded spinning attacks, and landed ground-and-pound following some well-timed takedowns. 

With 10 solid minutes in the books for Bigdash, the onus was on “King Kong Warrior” to make something happen in the final frame. He tried a takedown of his own to get top position, but the veteran Russian cinched in a guillotine off the back off a double-leg attempt. 

From there, Bigdash tightened up his squeeze to force the tap and score a massive win in his return

#3 Beats Aung La N Sang In Long-Awaited Trilogy Fight

Fans had waited for the rubber match between Bigdash and Aung La N Sang for years, and this past February, they got it at ONE: FULL CIRCLE.

The two superstars had split a pair of 25-minute ONE Middleweight World Title battles, with each of them earning a tight decision after five rounds.

And following “The Burmese Python’s” win in their second encounter, he’d successfully defended the gold three times while also claiming the ONE Light Heavyweight World Title.

However, Aung La N Sang would later lose both of his belts to De Ridder, which put a lot of pressure on his third meeting with Bigdash. Not only did each man want bragging rights in their head-to-head series, but they hoped to earn a showdown with “The Dutch Knight.”

The familiar foes tussled for three rounds in Singapore, but this time, the winner was clear.

Bigdash’s wrestling was too much for the Myanmar icon to handle, and the Russian constantly brought his man down, took dominant positions, and attacked with submissions and strikes.

When the 15 minutes were up, Bigdash’s hand was raised, proving that he deserved to challenge De Ridder for middleweight gold.

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