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It is not about the money for Reinier De Ridder when it comes to Combat Sports

LockerRoom Team
21 February 2024

Reigning supreme as the ONE Middleweight MMA World Champion, Reinier de Ridder is not only conquering the octagon but also realizing his martial arts dreams beyond the spotlight.

The anticipation mounts as "The Dutch Knight" prepares to defend his title in a highly awaited rematch against Anatoly "Sladkiy" Malykhin, the reigning heavyweight and light heavyweight MMA champion, in the main event of ONE 166: Qatar at the Lusail Sports Arena on March 1. This monumental clash of champions comes 15 months after Malykhin dealt De Ridder the first loss of his professional career, seizing the ONE Light Heavyweight MMA World Title in the process.

Despite the setback, the 33-year-old Dutch fighter has discovered a sense of home and stability in Combat Brothers, the gym he co-owns and operates with his coach, training partner, and close friend, Harun Ozkan, for the past seven years.

Reflecting on the evolution of Combat Brothers, De Ridder shared with, "Me and my brother, my buddy, we’ve been doing this together for so long. We’ve always shared blood, sweat, and tears on the mats. He helps me through all of my fights, so that’s where it started." What began as a shared space with a CrossFit gym has flourished into a thriving standalone facility attracting students of all backgrounds, from children to white-collar professionals to elite fighters.

While De Ridder devotes significant time to his own training, he finds immense fulfilment in imparting his passion for martial arts to others. Witnessing individuals from various walks of life embrace the challenge of combat sports fuels his energy and dedication.

Running a successful gym alongside maintaining his status as a top-ranked mixed martial artist presents its challenges, yet De Ridder emphasizes that the labor of love is worth every effort. "It’s never been about money. It’s just a thing we love," he explained. "We would be on the mats every day, and we would host the gym like this every day even if we wouldn’t be making money there. It’s just something we love."

ALSO READ | Reinier De Ridder Prepares to Settle the Score with Malykhin at ONE 166

Despite its humble beginnings, Combat Brothers has evolved into a premier training destination for European MMA talents, attracting seasoned professionals seeking to hone their skills alongside emerging prospects. De Ridder's open-door policy fosters a collaborative environment where fighters of all backgrounds converge to elevate each other's abilities.


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