Over the past three-and-a-half years, Reinier "The Dutch Knight" de Ridder has enjoyed quite a journey in ONE Championship.
De Ridder, who entered the organization as a promising stud, has delivered on his massive potential and so much more.
The outspoken Dutchman fought his way through the promotion’s middleweight division, bested elite opposition, kept his perfect MMA record intact, and claimed both the ONE middleweight and light heavyweight world titles. What’s more, he even had a submission grappling match with Andre Galvao that ended in a draw.
The sky seems to be the limit for the Combat Brothers representative now, and he looks to exert his dominance at ONE 159 when he defends his middleweight crown against former titleholder Vitaly Bigdash.
Ahead of that world title showdown on July 22, here are three performances that prove why De Ridder may just be the best middleweight on the planet.
1. Total domination of Aung La N Sang for middleweight crown
A few years ago, Aung La "The Burmese Python" N Sang was the baddest man on the ONE Championship roster.
The Myanmar superstar was a two-division ONE world champion and even finished then-heavyweight king Brandon Vera when the Filipino-American moved down for a special challenge at light heavyweight in October 2019.
But N Sang's reign of dominance came to an abrupt end by "The Dutch Knight" at "ONE: Inside the Matrix" just one year later.
Although some critics may have labeled de Ridder as the underdog, he would quickly prove them – and "The Burmese Python" – wrong. The Dutchman avoided his rival's strikes in the early exchanges before dragging him to the canvas.
N Sang escaped the challenger's body triangle and tried returning to his feet, but as he did, the lanky Dutchman jumped on his back, locked in a tighter body triangle, and caused the defending titleholder to fall down to the canvas.
From there, de Ridder sunk in a deep rear-naked choke and forced the Myanmar superstar to tap out at the 3:26 mark of round one.
That night, "The Dutch Knight" won the ONE middleweight world title, and when they rematched six months later, he would defeat N Sang via unanimous decision to capture his ONE light heavyweight world championship.
2. Submitting top Chinese fighter Fan Rong in 111 seconds
In January 2019, "King Kong Warrior" Fan Rong arrived in ONE with a huge reputation.
Considered China's top light heavyweight, Fan entered the organization with a 12-bout winning streak and a 92 percent finishing rate.
But de Ridder, who also made his promotional debut that evening, needed only 111 seconds to halt his momentum and put him to sleep.
The Dutchman wasted no time going to work, scoring a single-leg takedown inside 15 seconds. From half guard, he efficiently transitioned into side control and slowly started to work his way to a finish.
Fan resisted and tried to escape. But just as he got off his knees, de Ridder dragged the Chinese athlete to the mat, scooped his right arm around his foe's neck, and locked in the D'Arce choke with his left arm to get the statement win.
De Ridder's ruthlessness and killer instinct was made known to the public that day, and he has continued blending these two qualities effortlessly throughout his time in ONE.
3. De Ridder's knees take out submission specialist Gilberto Galvao
De Ridder's stock was growing following his impressive debut over Fan, and just five months later, it rose to new heights following his second-round TKO victory over Giberto Galvao.
Everyone expected the Dutchman to have a tough day in the ring against his fellow Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt.
The Brazilian juggernaut had forced 15 rivals to tap through a myriad of submissions, and by experience alone, it seemed as though Galvao was the favorite to take home the win.
However, De Ridder's tenacity and acumen in the grappling department proved too much for Galvao. Every time both fighters squared off in the clinch, it was "The Dutch Knight" who found more success, whether it was submissions attempted or strikes landed.
Eventually, Galvao simply could not keep up with his taller rival’s gas tank.
The juggernaut tried to pull guard following another successful takedown by de Ridder, but the latter dived in, trapped his opponent's skull within his grip, and unloaded with three huge left knees to take home the win.