Reinier de Ridder: I’ll use this to reach a new level

Reinier de Ridder’s year may have ended in disappointing fashion, but “The Dutch Knight” can still find solace in 2022, as it is the year that a phenom formed in ONE Championship.  

Champion-versus-Champion affairs are often a case of “he who dares,” and with so many variables between two dominant athletes, the swinging pendulum can often be unforgiving. 

And De Ridder found that out when he lost his ONE Light Heavyweight World Title at the heavy hands of Anatoly Malykhin in his latest fight at ONE on Prime Video 5 earlier this month. 

The interim heavyweight king handed him his first career loss via a devastating KO in the main event of the thrilling show, proving that even the most bulletproof can sometimes be hit.

Depite that defeat, “The Dutch Knight” proved this year that the greatest fighters are the ones who fight in uncharted territory. 

Following his capture of the ONE Middleweight and Light Heavyweight World Titles last year, 2022 was set for bouts of epic proportions – and he certainly delivered. 

De Ridder’s year began with a defense of his middleweight throne against the then-ONE Welterweight World Champion Kiamrian Abbasov at ONE: FULL CIRCLE in February. The Russian was an accoladed battler in the Circle and had long been a dominant force atop the rankings.

But size and strength favored the Netherlands native on this occasion, and Abbasov ultimately succumbed to “The Dutch Knight’s” grappling talents.

His next outing saw a former middleweight king step up to the plate.  

Vitaly Bigdash challenged De Ridder for the coveted strap in the main event of ONE 159 in July, and many thought it was to be the Dutchman’s biggest challenge to date.

Despite an early shakeup, De Ridder stayed dominant, and he cinched in an inverted triangle choke to finish the Russian in the opening round. With the win, he truly cemented his position as king of the middleweights.

His third and final World Title defense was against in-form superstar Malykhin, who, ultimately, proved to be too powerful for the Breda native.

But as 2023 looms large, and De Ridder eyes the next pivotal chapter in his career, he feels the lessons learned this year will assist him in levelling up. 

He has licked his wounds and reflected like great warriors do, and now he’s ready to make the new calendar year a definitive one. 

“This is the risk I take every time I step into the cage and I have my reasons to accept that risk, mostly because I want to do something special with my life,” the 16-1 fighter wrote on Instagram. 

“After all this, I would only be ashamed if I would not use it to become a better man. Maybe this is what I needed to take the next step in my evolution. We’re analyzing the fight and everything else. I’ll use this to reach a new level. The only way to move on is by doing what I do best: continuous hard work.”

Podcaster, lead MMA writer and analyst for SevereMMA. Host of the SevereMMA podcast, out every Sunday. Economics and Mathematics graduate from UCC. Also write for Sherdog. Previously of hov-mma and fightbooth. As heard on 2FM, Red FM, Today FM and more. Follow me on twitter for updates @SeanSheehanBA and on Facebook

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