Many competitors talk the talk about their willingness to face anybody, anywhere, anytime, but ONE Middleweight World Champion Reinier “The Dutch Knight” de Ridder walks the walk.
Despite taking a short break from training to be with his family, “The Dutch Knight” felt like the matchup live on U.S. prime-time television was an offer he could not refuse.
“I was on the beach with my family when I got the call on Thursday morning,” De Ridder begins.
“I wanted to say yes straight away, but I said, ‘Let me get two seconds to talk to my wife.’ Then I called right back and said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it!’”
Despite the quick turnaround, De Ridder is a dedicated martial artist who trains year-round and had already been preparing for his next challenge on the global stage.
That’s why he felt fully equipped to grab this opportunity with both hands.
“This is a huge chance for me to become champ-champ,” the 30-year-old Breda native says.
“I train every day of my life and I was going with full intensity because of a fight I was scheduled to take with [ONE Welterweight World Champion Kiamrian] Abbasov, so I’m in great shape.
“I’m fitter and stronger than ever, and I’m very sharp. I’d just taken a week off for the holidays, but maybe that benefited me as well.”
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Swapping his speedos for his fight shorts, De Ridder headed straight to the gym to spar that night, trained again on Friday, and then hopped on a plane to Singapore on Saturday.
Though it was definitely a whirlwind, “The Dutch Knight” believes he’s ready to face the superstar he defeated just six months ago.
Plus, De Ridder always knew that there was a chance he could get the call to compete, while the higher light heavyweight limit meant there is no rush to make weight.
“It was something in the back of my mind the last couple of weeks, so I never really let go of the training and never really let go of the killer mindset,” he says.
“I didn’t have too much time [to prepare for the weight]. I’m eating a lot right now, which is different for me on fight week, and I’m at a decent weight — 97 or 98 kilograms — which is my regular weight.
“But I don’t really care too much about the weight difference or whatever. If I show up with the best of my abilities, I think I can beat anybody, any weight, anywhere.”
De Ridder won the middleweight gold when he snapped “The Burmese Python’s” seven-bout winning streak with a first-round submission at ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX last October. The ease with which he dismantled the Myanmar hero shocked fans around the world.
With Aung La N Sang’s ONE Light Heavyweight World Title on the line in their rematch, “The Dutch Knight” expects to see some improvements and a different game plan from his opponent. However, he does not think the Sanford MMA man can stop him from achieving the same result.
“I expect him to be very much ready and I expect him to be the best I’ve ever faced,” De Ridder says.
“After a loss like that — that early and that dominant — I think he will have been very active in the last six months trying to correct his mistakes. He’s a true martial artist, so I don’t expect anything else.
“I think it’s going to be a little more of a hassle to get him down this time. Last time, he ran toward me and tried to put the pressure on early, which really benefited me in taking him down.
“I think, this time, he is going to be a little more hesitant, a little more careful, so I’m going to have to put in some more work to get him down, but I still see him ending up on the ground and getting choked out again.”
Aung La N Sang has a chance to level the score with “The Dutch Knight” in this second encounter, which could tee up a fascinating trilogy bout down the line. However, De Ridder thinks that he will shut down any rivalry with another dominant win.
The Combat Brothers representative does not think enough time has elapsed for his foe to catch up, and he is planning for an emphatic finish that proves he is a level above “The Burmese Python.”
“I’m just going to take him out right away again. To get a rivalry, he should need to beat me, and he’s not going to beat me,” De Ridder asserts.
“I think this is going to be a completely different fight. It’s going to be up to me to push the pace. I’m going to press him back, hit him with some good shots, take him down, and choke him out.
“It would be nice to get it done faster [than last time], but I can’t promise anything.”
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