Skip to main content

The List: 3 reasons Reinier de Ridder is among ONE's most dangerous pound-for-pound MMA fighters

Two-division champion puts his middleweight belt on the line at ONE on Prime Video 3 in October.

With a perfect 16-0 record since he debuted in 2013, ONE middleweight and light heavyweight world champion Reinier de Ridder is undeniably one of the top competitors in all of mixed martial arts. 

And across his seven ONE Championship bouts in the sport, the judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt has proven to be a suffocating and technical grappler, as well as a frightening ground-and-pound artist.

Next, de Ridder (16-0) returns to defend his middleweight belt against Russian challenger Shamil Abdulaev (13-1) in the main event of ONE on Prime Video 3 on Friday, October 21.

It's another chance for "The Dutch Knight" to showcase his elite talents on the global stage, and this time, it will come in front of a massive U.S. primetime audience.

As we look ahead to fight night at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, let's examine exactly what makes the two-division king one of the most dangerous pound-for-pound athletes in MMA

1. Unstoppable knees from front headlock

De Ridder's slick grappling opens up opportunities for devastating ground strikes, and this concept is on full display whenever he attacks with arguably his best submission – the D'Arce choke.

Similar to an anaconda choke, the D'Arce is a variation of the front headlock, and it can be used both to control and submit.

In the Dutchman's case, he sees the D'Arce as a way to land unanswered knees to his opponent's head. He takes advantage of ONE Championship's MMA rule set – which allows knees to the head of a grounded opponent – and pins his foe in a turtle position.

If the opponent chooses to defend the choke by maintaining a strong base, he exposes himself to those hurtful knees. But if he doesn't address the submission threat right away, "The Dutch Knight" will happily take the choke.

In his second ONE Championship fight, while he was still a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, ee Ridder finished Gilberto Galvao with exactly this type of attack, earning the knockout with strikes as he pummeled the grounded Brazilian with heavy knees. 

2. Unique and creative submissions

It's no secret that de Ridder is a superb grappler who looks to press that advantage in every fight.

What makes him so special, though, is that his submissions can be incredibly unorthodox, making them even harder to defend.

The 32-year-old showed off his tricky submission arsenal in his most recent bout – a successful ONE middleweight world title defense against former divisional king Vitaly Bigdash.

Just a little over a minute into that contest after an exchange on the mat, "The Dutch Knight" was attacking from his back, while Bigdash appeared to feel safe inside his opponent's guard. 

That feeling would prove to be fleeting, however, as de Ridder immediately wrapped up a reverse triangle choke.

Just as the name suggests, this submission is applied completely differently than a traditional triangle choke. It's very rare, and for that reason, it's also very difficult to escape.

3. Dynamic back control

Make no mistake – the two-division king is a finisher and a submission ace.

At the same time, those submissions are set up by his world-class control on the mat, especially when taking the back.

De Ridder's back attack is so impressive because of his ability to transition between different forms of control (such as the body triangle, two hooks, or one hook) or to other dominant positions (like the mount).

This skill set was most evident in the Dutchman's second world title win over former two-division titleholder Aung La N Sang, as he spent the better part of 25 minutes effortlessly controlling the defending king.

Rather than hold his opponent in one spot, de Ridder was a smooth operator on the ground, moving from different types of back control to the mount and vice versa, exhausting N Sang along the way.

This story first published at