Reinier “The Dutch Knight” de Ridder got the surprise of a lifetime last week.
While kicking the sand between his toes on a family vacation at the beach, the ONE Middleweight World Champion received a phone call from ONE Championship matchmakers, who asked if he’d be interested in a fight with former foe Aung La N Sang this Thursday at “ONE on TNT IV.”
“I wanted to say yes straight away,” De Ridder recalled. “But I said, ‘Let me get two seconds to talk to my wife.’ Then I called right back and said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it!’”
With that, the Dutchman is now slotted to challenge Aung La N Sang for the ONE Light Heavyweight World Title. If De Ridder wins, he’ll have taken both of the Myanmar athlete’s belts.
This past October, “The Dutch Knight” scored a first-round submission win over “The Burmese Python” to claim middleweight gold, and he’s looking to replicate that success at light heavyweight.
“This is a huge chance for me to become champ-champ,” he said.
“I train every day of my life and I was going with full intensity because of a fight I was scheduled to take with [ONE Welterweight World Champion Kiamrian] Abbasov, so I’m in great shape.
“I’m fitter and stronger than ever, and I’m very sharp. I’d just taken a week off for the holidays, but maybe that benefited me as well.”
Many fans are calling this rematch a rivalry in the making, but De Ridder sees it a bit differently.
“I’m just going to take him out right away again. To get a rivalry, he should need to beat me, and he’s not going to beat me,” the Dutchman said.
“I think this is going to be a completely different fight. It’s going to be up to me to push the pace. I’m going to press him back, hit him with some good shots, take him down, and choke him out.
“It would be nice to get it done faster [than last time], but I can’t promise anything.”
Of course, with so much riding on the line for both World Champions, fans can expect an explosive clash in the Circle.
Will De Ridder dethrone Aung La N Sang once again, or will the Myanmar native earn redemption while defending his ONE Light Heavyweight World Championship?
Find out this when “ONE on TNT IV” airs this Thursday, 29 April, on Hotstar and Star Sports Select 2 at 6 a.m. India Standard Time (IST).
An encore will be shown on Star Sports Select 2 at 8:30 p.m. IST on Friday, 30 April.