The undefeated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt from Breda, Netherlands, earned a shot at the gold when he defeated the former World Title challenger at ONE: WARRIOR’S CODE in Jakarta, Indonesia on Friday, 7 February.
Though De Ridder was forced to go the distance for the first time in his career, the 15 minutes he spent battling against the colossal Brazilian gave him new confidence in his ability to overcome adversity and taught him some valuable lessons he can use to evolve as a martial artist.
Once “The Dutch Knight” got a chance to recover from his exciting battle inside the Istora Senayan, he revealed what it felt like to go to a decision for the first time, and how he plans to use the experience to defeat “The Burmese Python” when they face off.
ONE Championship: How are you feeling about the match-up and victory in Jakarta?
Reinier De Ridder: I had a lot of time to reflect on the plane home, and I had some time to talk to my coaches.
Basically, it was good to have to dig deep for once, to go all three rounds, and to see how far I could push myself to get the win. A lot of stuff didn’t go to plan at all, but it was good to have to dig deep and get the win anyway.
ONE: What did you learn from the first decision win of your career?
RDR: It taught me a lot about myself, and a lot about my technique as well.
There are a lot of things I will do a lot better in the next fight, there are a lot of things I will work on that I am already working on in my mind. I was in the gym yesterday. I can’t really do a lot yet, but I am really excited to make some adjustments and get ready for Aung La.
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ONE: Ataides looked strong in the first round and defended your takedowns well. How did he feel in there?
RDR: His lip got cut in the first two minutes and that made it really slippery. When I shot in and grabbed him, he was slippery like nothing else I have felt before.
I think it was in the second round, I took him down and I thought, ‘Now I got him, he is not going anywhere,’ but then he was like an eel! He moved a little bit and slipped right out of my hands.
ONE: As the bout wore on, you started to look more confident and had more success. Why was that?
RDR: He was very tired. I was tired, but he was empty. He had to work hard to defend my takedowns, and in the clinch, I hit him with a lot of shots to the body as well – a lot of knees – and I think that really helped to wear him out, too.
I still had to be careful as he was very dangerous, especially with the knees. I was careful to not rush in and get hit with one of those.
ONE: He tagged you a few times with hard shots. How did his power feel when you were in there?
RDR: His power is something else. He has been knocking out the top guys – [Vitaly] Bigdash and a lot of others – but he never got a real clean shot off on me.
I was always moving my head, or there was always something in-between to block it. I’m glad I didn’t get a knee to the face or something crazy! He was strong and powerful, and he’s wild. His hands were really low. That’s something I’ve never experienced either and it really stuck in my mind.
Because his hands were low, I didn’t know where the shots were coming from. I would hit him with a jab or a cross or something, but then his left hand or right hand would come up and I couldn’t see where it was coming from.
Normally when the hands are up I can see where the shots are coming from more precisely. I had to go with big head movement to avoid these shots because I didn’t know where they were coming from. There is nobody in the gym that fights that way so it’s a new thing, but I think it’s something I can work on.
ONE: What do you think was the key thing that earned you the win?
RDR: I think I did more damage. I think if the fight would have gone two or three more minutes, I would have finished him.
ONE: How satisfied are you overall with your performance?
RDR: I wasn’t satisfied, to be honest. I’m in there to finish a guy, not win a decision, so in the first few hours after the fight I was happy I got the win, but I was unhappy about not getting a finish.
But, I feel good about the fight now. That came after a few days of processing it and talking to my coaches. Now I’m proud I showed heart and proud that I got the win despite all of the stuff that happened in the fight.
I’m happy I dug deep and gave it all I had in the last round, but it wasn’t my most technical performance. I have much more to show.
ONE: With the win, you booked your spot against Aung La N Sang to compete for the ONE Middleweight World Title. When would you like that to happen?
RDR: I just need a few weeks to heal up, then I will be ready. I think he has earned the right to pick the place and the time, but I just want to heal up, then I will get back to it.
ONE: Are you more confident about facing him now you’ve beaten one of the division’s most dangerous men?
RDR: Yeah, I took a guy out who knocked out Bigdash. Aung La didn’t knock out Bigdash. They had two close fights, so let’s see what I can do with Aung La!