De Ridder, Malykhin Verbally Spar At Press Conference, Take Shots At Bhullar
The undefeated MMA World Champions will fight for De Ridder’s ONE Light Heavyweight World Title in the main event this Friday, December 2, and they took aim at one another in front of fans and reporters at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.
Here are some of the standout moments from both De Ridder and Malykhin, as well as some of the other big names who are set to compete live in U.S. primetime.
Malykhin And De Ridder Trade Barbs, Unite Against Bhullar
Reinier de Ridder is excited to defend one of his belts against a tough opponent, and the fights can’t stack up fast enough for the dominant Dutchman, who currently rules over the middleweight and light heavyweight divisions.
However, De Ridder is also looking to add a third piece of gold, and he believes that a win over ONE Interim Heavyweight World Champion Anatoly Malykhin would make him a three-division king in spirit.
“The Dutch Knight” explained:
“I don’t want to relax. I want to be active. I want to be here every couple of months defending my belts – my middleweight belt and my light heavyweight belt.
“For me, this is the fight for the heavyweight belt. It’s the two top guys in ONE Championship going at each other. The guy who’s wearing the real strap now (Arjan Bhullar), we haven’t seen him for a long time, so I think this is our moment.”
Meanwhile, Malykhin was due to face ONE Heavyweight World Champion Arjan Bhullar to unify the divisional belts earlier in the year, but an injury kept the Indian-Canadian out of action.
Given that situation, the interim titleholder is grateful that he gets to challenge for gold in the light heavyweight ranks against an opponent he respects – unlike his rival in the heavier weight class.
“I want to thank [ONE CEO] Chatri [Sityodtong] for this opportunity. I have been eating chocolate all the time. The cut has been easy. I am going to knock out Reinier de Ridder. This is the best shape of my life.
“Forget Bhullar. He is just weak and did not accept my fight. It shows a lot from him. I respect Reinier a lot. We are gonna make history. It is going to be like ‘Thrilla In Manila II.’”
But while there is plenty of respect between Malykhin and De Ridder, the latter couldn’t help but take a jab at the Russian for owning an interim strap but calling himself the heavyweight king.
“The Dutch Knight” said to Malykhin:
“We all know [your belt] is a fake one. You didn’t beat the champion, you’re not champion.”
“The fake champion is the one that doesn’t fight for two-and-a-half years. I’m the present one right here.
“On December 3, RDR, it’s sleep time. One round.”
Kade Ruotolo Excited To Showcase Grappling In Primetime, Matheus Gabriel Eyes Upset
As one of the leading stars in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Ruotolo feels responsible to deliver fast-paced action whenever he competes in front of a global audience.
The 19-year-old American said:
“[Submission grappling] is growing all over the world. It’s up to the athletes to make it exciting. It’s really hard if one guy is butt-scooting, being boring, right? And that’s pretty much what my brother [Tye Ruotolo] and I are completely against.
“It takes two to tango, and as long as we keep bringing exciting performances, there’s no reason why [submission grappling] shouldn’t grow like the rest.”
For his part, Gabriel is facing a huge task in his promotional debut.
But having competed at the top of the BJJ world for many years, he feels ready to shock Ruotolo and claim the gold.
The Brazilian said:
“I’m so excited to do my debut match and get the title. I don’t feel any pressure. I’ve been fighting 17 years in jiu-jitsu, so I’m ready to get the belt.”
Soldic Eager For ONE Debut, But Ramazanov Plans Rude Welcome
The Croatian knockout artist earned a reputation for incredible finishes while becoming a two-division KSW Champion, and that’s what he hopes to deliver in his first promotional appearance.
“I try to bring the noise in the arena and bring knockouts. I try to give good performances, and on Saturday I will give my best again.
“In my career, I never chose any opponent. Murad is in my way so I need to beat this guy. I’m ready for it.
“I’m good on the ground, good in wrestling, and striking. I believe in myself, and soon the gold will be on my shoulder. Very soon.”
On the other side, Ramazanov owns a perfect 11-0 MMA record and a dominant 3-0 slate in ONE.
He knows Soldic is entering the organization as one of the biggest stars from the European circuit, but he doesn’t want a newcomer to take away everything he’s worked for – especially a potential ONE Welterweight World Title shot.
The Russian said:
“I just want to say that Asia is my territory, ONE Championship is my organization, and I’m going to greet him really well. It’s all going to go down [on December 2].”
Chatri Sityodtong: ‘American Fans, You’re In For A Treat’
The back-and-forth chatter from all of the fighters helped build an even bigger buzz for Friday’s event, and ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong can’t wait for the action to get underway.
Most of all, he’s excited for the elite competitors across multiple sports to remind the U.S. primetime audience what the world’s largest martial arts organization is all about.
“We have the highest finish rate of any organization. We recruit finishers and the best athletes in the world.
“Mikey Musumeci, Kade and Tye Ruotolo – the greatest grapplers. We have Roberto Soldic now, one of the greatest finishers. We have Reinier de Ridder too.
“We are the most exciting organization. American fans, you’re in for a treat!”