Two-division ONE World Champion Reinier de Ridder will be stepping into the ONE Circle for the third time in seven months when he defends his ONE Middleweight World Championship against Vitaly Bigdash in the main event at ONE 159 on 22 July at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
It will be the second World Title defense this year for “The Dutch Knight,” and he’ll be facing a man eager to reclaim the belt he lost five years ago.
Fortunately for the Dutchman, he has been able to train with one of the best grapplers in the world – and a rising star in ONE Championship’s MMA rankings – during his recent trip to the United States.
While visiting Florida, De Ridder spent some time training with Marcus Almeida at American Top Team, and he recognizes just how special it was to work with the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu legend.
“It was a big honor. I came there, I arrived a little late, but they finally let me in. I stepped on the mat, and ‘Buchecha’ was training with someone else. But he said, ‘Let’s train together.’ So we got in like an hour, an hour and a half of straight training,” De Ridder said.
“[We did] a lot of rounds. It was a very good session, a grueling session. And it’s just cool, man. It was cool to train with a guy who I’ve looked up to for a while and to measure myself with his skill set.”
“Buchecha” is currently 3-0 in MMA since switching to the all-encompassing sport last year, and he is quickly establishing himself as the man to be in ONE’s heavyweight division.
Working with the 17-time BJJ World Champion proved to be immensely beneficial for "The Dutch Knight," who noticed “Buchecha’s rapidly developing stand-up game.
“[His skill set] definitely is [as good as they say]. His takedowns are very, very good. His striking is coming along as well. And as his ground game is next level. So yeah, I think he might be getting up there [against the top guys] sooner,” De Ridder said.
The unbeaten Dutchman will be looking to further stamp his dominance on the middleweight division against Bigdash at ONE 159 after successfully defending his throne against Kiamrian “Brazen” Abbasov this past February at ONE: FULL CIRCLE.
Whether the former divisional king will be able to hand De Ridder his first loss remains to be seen, but the main event bout on 22 July will be nothing short of a barnburner.
Download the ONE Super App to catch all the action at ONE 159: De Ridder vs. Bigdash on Friday, 22 July, at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.