Reinier “The Dutch Knight” de Ridder is the name on everybody’s lips.
The ONE Middleweight and Light Heavyweight World Champion’s stock has risen exponentially with back-to-back World Title wins over Aung La “The Burmese Python” N Sang, so it’s no surprise that he’s the talk of the town.
De Ridder’s performances have matched his pre-fight confidence, and he’s even made it his mission to go after an unprecedented third World Championship in the heavyweight division.
Here’s what the other ONE stars are saying about the undefeated Dutchman as he continues to make history and build his legacy on the global stage.
Aung La N Sang
“The Burmese Python” has gotten a firsthand look at De Ridder’s incredible skills, and following his second straight defeat at “ONE on TNT IV,” the Sanford MMA representative offered his thoughts on the Breda native.
Above all, Aung La N Sang praised “The Dutch Knight’s” suffocating grappling repertoire, which saw him dominate for the duration of their five-round bout.
“He’s got a good backpack, he’s got good hooks. His back [control] is super tight, especially when he body-triangles, he’s hard to move,” the Myanmar star said.
“I was surprised at how tight he was in every position. He didn’t give much space at all. He’s technically very sound on the grappling side. His punches weren’t hard, even at a heavier weight.
“He up-kicked me pretty hard, he hit me with some good elbows, and when he had the [D’Arce choke attempt] he kneed me too, but I don’t think he had that much power.”
The Myanmar icon added that De Ridder has given him the motivation to improve. And when it comes to their war of words before meeting in the Circle, he doesn’t hold anything against the Dutchman.
“As a competitor, you always need somebody to push you to be a better competitor,” Aung La N Sang said. “Outside of that, he does talk a lot, but he’s just trying to sell fights and make a name for himself.”
As a fellow judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki has been impressed by De Ridder’s performances.
The Japanese superstar knows what it takes to win with grappling at the top level, and he is pleased that “The Dutch Knight” is finding success with that element of his game.
“If De Ridder only has one technique, then you should conquer that technique,” Aoki offers.
“But I think De Ridder is strong, and he’s undefeated, and what I think is interesting is that he’s kind of a talent that ONE has discovered.
“Aung La N Sang and I were in other promotions before ONE discovered us. But Eduard Folayang and De Ridder, I think this is something ONE should be proud of because ONE discovered them.
“There are many different ways to discover talent and many different ways to become a champion, so I think we should keep that in mind.”
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Leandro “Wolf” Ataides is the man who’s pushed the unbeaten World Champion the hardest in his mixed martial arts career, battling De Ridder to a split decision at ONE: WARRIOR’S CODE in February 2020.
It was a close affair, and Ataides would love to run it back with World Championship gold on the line.
“I am ready for the title shot. Personally, I think I didn’t lose the fight against Reinier, but I guess we will fight again,” the Brazilian said.
“I was just surprised by [the first bout between] Reinier and Aung La. I thought the fight would go to the end, not like that, but this is a fight and anything can happen.”
As one of De Ridder’s compatriots, Dutch-Indonesian star Anthony “The Archangel” Engelen is thrilled to see his historic success on the global stage.
Engelen is in awe of “The Dutch Knight’s” achievements in ONE so far, and he is looking forward to witnessing even more epic moments from the Combat Brothers representative.
“Impressive is an understatement. As a fellow Dutchman, I am definitely proud about Reinier,” he says.
“He came into ONE Championship, had a few great wins, then got a title shot for the middleweight belt against Aung La. He brought it home in spectacular fashion and then took a last-minute shot to go for the Light Heavyweight [World] Championship and did it again. Just amazing.
“What is next for him? Who knows. He has even been talking about going to heavyweight and challenging Bhullar for the heavyweight title. I think everyone would love to see that, to see a triple-champ.
“That would be unheard of, but I would also love to see him defend one of his other titles. But wow! Whatever he does, it is going to be awesome, 100 percent!”
Unlike many of his fellow superstars, reigning ONE Heavyweight World Champion Arjan “Singh” Bhullar – a man De Ridder would like to challenge for another belt – is not handing out compliments to the man from Breda.
India’s first Mixed Martial Arts World Champion believes he will be a level above “The Dutch Knight” if they do square off in the Circle, adding that if anything, he will drop down in weight and challenge for light heavyweight gold.
“I’m not Aung La N Sang. Let’s get that straight right now,” Bhullar said recently after a callout from the Dutchman.
“You’re not gonna run across that cage and shoot those garbage takedowns on me, keep me down with that garbage grappling, or close the distance with that garbage striking.
“None of [his skills are] impressive to me, and he’s not about to make a name off me. If anything, I’ll go down and take his belt.”
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