On Wednesday, 28 April, the undefeated mixed martial artist added the ONE Light Heavyweight World Title to the ONE Middleweight World Championship he took from the Myanmar icon in October.
Though the rematch lasted significantly longer — the pair battled hard for five rounds — the Dutchman was dominant throughout the contest to claim two-division gold.
“It was one helluva battle. Respect to Aung, he’s a great fighter and a great champion. I’m just happy it’s over,” De Ridder said afterward.
The Breda native used his wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu prowess to dictate proceedings at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. While he couldn’t match his first-round submission of “The Burmese Python” in their first contest, he was elated to add another belt to his trophy case.
“Yes, I’m happy. It’s fine this way. I would have preferred to choke him out — I got close a couple of times — but it’s cool to show that I can go five rounds,” De Ridder added.
“[I showed] I’ve got the cardio, the stamina, I can take guys down every round, show my heart and will on 6 days’ notice against a much heavier guy, a much improved Aung, so I’m content. He was very strong this time – a lot stronger than last time.”
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For his part, Aung La N Sang was understandably deflated after losing both of his World Titles. Still, he managed to maintain some optimism as he looks forward to a busy 2021.
“I need to work a little bit harder, put a little more time into the ground game. I don’t think I’m proud of my performance,” the Sanford MMA representative said.
“[To the people of Myanmar], I’m sorry I didn’t get the win. I’m really upset about that, but people, thank you for the support, thank you for the love. Keep fighting, keep doing what’s right.
“The damage is superficial, so I don’t need much time off. I’m healthy, I’ll be back in training Monday. I want to do two or three more fights this year if ONE allows me to.”
Meanwhile, “The Dutch Knight” is not content to rest on his laurels. Immediately after winning light heavyweight gold, he challenged reigning ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon “The Truth” Vera in hopes of becoming a three-division king.
Vera first has to get past Arjan “Singh” Bhullar in the main event of ONE: DANGAL on 15 May. The Dutchman hopes “The Truth” will emerge victorious so that he can take out a legend to cement his place in history.
“It would be cool if it’s Brandon Vera because he’s been the champ for a while, so it would be cool to take it from him. Two belts is cool, but three is better,” De Ridder joked.
“He’s a great striker. His wrestling is alright, but it’s not on my level. It’ll be cool, man, to fight for history again, to fight for my legacy. I hope we can make that happen.”
Conversely, Aung La N Sang plans to scale back and focus on making middleweight his permanent home again — though he doesn’t think his rival’s plans are wise.
“I’m done with light heavyweight. I’m all middleweight now. I’m down to compete against anybody, but to be the best version of myself, I think middleweight is my home,” the Myanmar star said.
“I think, stylistically, Brandon is a bad matchup for [Reinier]. I think he is biting off more than he can chew.”
Finally, “The Dutch Knight” believes he has closed the book on any future fights against Aung La N Sang.
While “The Burmese Python” will drop to middleweight and try to work his way back up the ladder, De Ridder simply thinks their short but entertaining rivalry has met a convincing end.
“I have spoken to [Aung La N Sang] a few times now in passing. He’s a legend, he’s a great fighter, I respect him, but I never want to see him inside the cage again,” the Dutch star said.
“I’m happy to put this to bed now. Two wins, it’s done.”