‘I’m Very Fortunate’ – How Reinier De Ridder Balances Fatherhood And Fighting
ONE Middleweight World Champion Reinier de Ridder is one of the planet’s top pound-for-pound mixed martial artists – but he’s always a father first and a fighter second.
“The Dutch Knight” is now entering the final preparations for his submission grappling showdown with BJJ phenom Tye Ruotolo at ONE Fight Night 10: Johnson vs. Moraes III on Prime Video, and just like his previous training camps, he’s soaking up as much time as possible with his two children.
Even though the 32-year-old will spend the last few days before his May 5 match in Colorado tightening up his skills in the United States, he typically enjoys spending downtime between sessions with his 4-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son.
In fact, De Ridder has designed his life to prioritize family, living close to the gym he owns and trains at in the Netherlands so he’s rarely far from home.
He told ONEFC.com:
“With the success I’ve had fighting and the success I’ve had as an entrepreneur with my businesses, it’s pretty nice. I have a lot of time to spend with the kids. Every day I can bring my daughter to school and pick her up. I can spend a lot of time with my boy.
“To be honest, it’s pretty easy to balance right now. I’ve always focused on keeping everything close as far as work and training. So I bike to the gym. It’s a five-minute bike ride. I bike to everything I do work-related. It’s so close. I get to eat most of my meals together with the kids. I’m very fortunate.”
The middleweight MMA king likes to lead an active lifestyle – and so do his children.
Rather than sitting in front of the television or tapping away on a tablet for hours, De Ridder says his youngsters enjoy being physical, showing the same inclination for grappling as their BJJ and judo black belt dad:
“We play outside a lot. We play inside a lot. Just whenever you let them free with the two of them, they start to play. They start to wrestle a bit. They start to play fight a little bit. So that’s very cool for me as well.”
Given their physical nature and time spent in the training center, it comes as no surprise that De Ridder expects his children to take up some form of martial arts.
“They will grow up in the gym, one way or another, so they will definitely train. My 2-year-old son really likes it. He’s always punching in the air. He wants to hit mitts, and he’s very into it.”
Reinier De Ridder Puts Family First
With a 16-1 professional record and widely regarded as one of the most skilled mixed martial artists on the planet, Reinier de Ridder has given his children plenty of inspiration.
Naturally, he’s determined to win every time he steps into the Circle, but he also knows that his kids aren’t concerned with the wins and losses:
“It does motivate me to make them proud, like in the long term. But to be honest, they don’t really care. They’re happy Daddy is there. And the only thing they know is Daddy trains a lot, and that’s kind of how far that goes.”
Now in his 30s, the father of two is beginning to recognize that championship belts aren’t everything.
Successes and failures will inevitably happen in competition, but De Ridder has come to realize that it’s family – above all else – that matters the most.
“I had always just thought about achievements, really. But to be honest, this is something that was on my mind in the last couple of years, but it gets less important as time goes on. It’s just if I can have a loving relationship with [my kids], that’s the most important thing. I can be there for them. I can spend time and spend energy with them, then that’s the most important thing.”
Last December, De Ridder experienced the first loss of his decade-long professional MMA career, suffering a devastating knockout against Anatoly Malykhin and losing his ONE Light Heavyweight World Title in the process.
But with the perspective and wisdom gained through fatherhood, “The Dutch Knight” was able to handle that defeat with astonishing ease.
After all, he says, once you make family the most important part of your life, it’s easier to overcome other obstacles:
“If it doesn’t go my way, if I get hurt … to be honest, as long as the kids are fine, I don’t give a f*** about myself. I’m alright. I’ll manage.
“I’ll do this fighting thing with all my heart. I’ll give all my time and all my energy, and I’ll go harder than anybody else in the gym. I’ll give everything for it. Sacrifice everything I can sacrifice for it. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. The result doesn’t really matter. I’m okay.
“Regardless, as long as the kids are fine, they’re happy, I can be myself around them, then that’s enough.”