Reinier “The Dutch Knight” De Ridder is gearing up for the biggest match in his mixed martial arts career.
“This is what I’ve been working for basically my whole life,” De Ridder says.
“I’ve been on the mat since I was 5 years old, and this is going to be my crowning moment.”
The 30-year-old De Ridder has brilliantly used his black belt judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expertise to great effect.
Since his professional mixed martial arts debut in 2013, he’s racked up a spotless 12-0 record, a 93 percent finishing rate, and thrilling stoppage victories over the likes of “King Kong Warrior” Fan Rong and Gilberto “Giba” Galvao.
Then this past February, the Breda, Netherlands, resident utilized his immense reach and striking to defeat five-time BJJ World Champion Leandro “Wolf” Ataides via unanimous decision. With the win, he booked his shot to challenge for Aung La N Sang’s ONE Middleweight World Championship.
“Aung La, are you ready? You pick the place, you pick the time, you pick the date – you deserve it – but keep that belt shiny ’cause I am coming for it,” De Ridder declared following his victory.
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Eight-and-a-half months later, De Ridder will attempt to win that shiny belt in Singapore, but he’ll need to take it from a true icon of the sport.
Aung La N Sang has been on an absolute tear since claiming the ONE Middleweight World Championship in June 2017.
The Myanmar hero is riding a seven-bout winning streak that includes victories over four-time Muay Thai and Kickboxing World Champion Alain “The Panther” Ngalani, battle-hardened Japanese veteran Ken Hasegawa, and most recently, ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon “The Truth” Vera.
During that span, he also defeated Alexandre “Bebezao” Machado in 56 seconds to claim the vacant ONE Light Heavyweight World Title.
The Dutchman has watched Aung La N Sang’s epic journey through ONE Championship and is well aware of the skill set he’ll be up against – especially the devastating striking repertoire that has felled so many opponents.
“He’s got a great right hand and a great right kick. He switches a little bit, and he’s got a typical Dutch kickboxing style,” De Ridder says.
“He has great punches and great pressure, so he’s good all-around. And don’t forget he’s a good wrestler, too. He is good on the ground, as well. He is nobody to be taken lightly. He’s a great fighter.”
While De Ridder respects his opponent’s all-around game, he isn’t looking to engage in a firefight. Instead, he’ll look to utilize his greatest strength.
“I’m going to take him down and choke him out,” he states. “The guy is very tough. He is almost impossible to knock out. But everybody has a neck, and I can find it everywhere.”
In preparation for this bout, De Ridder has been training at Combat Brothers in Breda alongside fellow ONE athlete Pieter “The Archangel” Buist and multiple-time Mixed Martial Arts World Champion Gegard “The Dreamcatcher” Mousasi, both of whom have helped elevate his stand-up arsenal.
“I have some of the best strikers in the world around me and they’ve been teaching me a lot, so I’ve been making a lot of progress there,” De Ridder says.
“My striking is pretty basic. I put on the pressure, make [my opponent] walk backward, and I take him down.”
It’s a style that has worked brilliantly for De Ridder to date, and one that he believes will carry him to more success in “The Lion City.”
By combining his forward-pressure style of striking with his lethal submission prowess, “The Dutch Knight” believes he has the perfect strategy to take out “The Burmese Python.”
“The most important thing is pushing him back,” De Ridder continues. “I’m going to push him back, put him against the fence, take him down, use my judo and my wrestling, and then get to his back.”
Now just 10 days out from the biggest fight of his career, De Ridder is feeling very confident that he’ll achieve his dream and capture the belt.
Along the way, he plans to cherish the moment with his biggest supporters.
“I’m going to celebrate it,” he says.
“I’m going to take it all in and yeah, it’s something that I’m going to be remembering for the rest of my life. It’s something that will make my kids proud, make my wife proud, and make everyone around me proud, so I’m really looking forward to that.”