Leandro “Wolf” Ataides has had to wait since May 2018 to return to the Circle, and he plans to make up for lost time by earning a ONE Middleweight World Title shot.
Ataides will meet the unbeaten Dutchman in the co-main event at the Istora Senayan in Jakarta, Indonesia, and he is sure that an emphatic victory would thrust him right back into the top contender’s spot.
“Reinier is a good fighter like me. I don’t see anybody else in the division to fight against [Aung La N Sang],” he offers.
“I really want to be the World Champion and work toward this. I hope the next fight will be a title shot, and I am really going to do my best to prove I deserve [it].”
The man that stands between Ataides and his dream will not be easy to defeat. De Ridder has a perfect 11-0 record with a 100-percent finishing rate, including a pair of highlight-reel finishes in his first two bouts on the global stage.
“Wolf” has had to watch all this happen from the sidelines after his scheduled bout against Vitaly Bigdash fell through last year.
However, while he was out of action, he did not take any time away from the gym, so he believes he will showcase a ton of improvements when he makes his long-awaited return.
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“Actually I never stopped with my training, I was preparing for any call from ONE Championship,” he reveals.
“My background is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and I am a World Champion, so I have tried to work more on my BJJ ground game as it feels like home – it is natural for me.
“Also, I have worked on my boxing skills, so I guess it is going to help me to finish the fight. I want to show what I did, how I trained and put everything [together] in the cage.”
All of Ataides’ finishes in The Home Of Martial Arts have come via knockout, so it is easy to overlook that he is one of the most accomplished grapplers on the global stage.
The Nova União representative respects his fellow BJJ black belt’s strength on the mat, but he finds it hard to believe that will be the way this contest plays out.
“Nobody [has submitted me before]. He can try,” Ataides says.
“He is a good fighter, that’s why he hasn’t lost a fight. I can see his ground game is better than his striking game. He has good control in the fight but he’s slow with his movements.”
“Wolf” is confident wherever his foe wants to take things in Jakarta, so if De Ridder wants to have a grappling battle, he will be happy to oblige him and show the skills that have brought him so much success before.
“I can let him choose how the fight will go — striking or on the ground,” he adds.
“The fight can end in the first round by my ground game.”