Reinier de Ridder, ONE 159

Reinier de Ridder is the best middleweight not in the UFC, but he may never fight there

If you’ve missed it, Reinier de Ridder absolutely dismantled Kiamrian Abbasov at ONE Championship: Full Circle last weekend. de Ridder dismantled Abbasov with a nonstop grappling pace that perfectly combined submissions and ground and pound. That leads me to believe that de Ridder is the best middleweight not in the UFC. He may never fight there, but that’s okay. More on that later.

Reinier de Ridder benefits from a UFC middleweight division that is very weak at the time. There’s a massive gap between Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker and the rest of the division. As for the rest of the division, I have a hard time picking them over de Ridder. Strickland, Cannonier, Vettori, and more are all great fighters but de Ridder is on a new level and brings something to the table we currently don’t have in the UFC.

Outside the UFC, there’s two fighters that I can point to that really could be top five talent in the UFC on day one. The obvious is Bellator’s Gegard Mousasi, who also defended his title this weekend but in Bellator. The other is KSW’s Roberto Soldic. Soldic, like Reinier de Ridder, is a dual weight champion, however, and also not as long in the tooth.

What sets de Ridder apart is his specialty in grappling. Hailing from the Netherlands, a place known for it’s world class kickboxing, de Ridder is a grappler, and a good one at that. This should scare everyone because he has a plethora of talent to spar with standing up, an issue the UK has had the other way around.

In the UK, not many grapplers are around, making it a boxing-heavy country. Alternatively, with de Ridder’s aptitude in grappling, he has an embarrassment of riches to strike with. We have seen him make big strides in the standup department.

Will Reinier de Ridder ever fight in the UFC? Probably not…

We may never see Reinier de Ridder in the UFC. He’s not like Roberto Soldic where KSW fighters routinely make the move to the UFC. Think Mateusz Gamrot, Joanna Jedrzejczyk and more. The promotion prides themself with fighters transitioning over. Fighters that could come over are Phil de Fries (who was in the UFC), Marian Ziolkowski, and Salahdine Parnasse in addition to Soldic.

ONE Championship is not so keen on the move over, however. As a matter of fact, ONE Championship is keen on getting fighters from the UFC to prove how good their roster truly is. Demetrious Johnson, Eddie Alvarez, John Lineker and more have made the move. Some have had success, some have not. But the fact remains that ONE Championship sees themselves as a direct competitor to the UFC, not an inferior product.

Where Bellator fails to promote their home-grown talent, ONE Championship has done well. Fighters like Reinier de Ridder, Bibiano Fernandes, Garry Tonon, and more are all well known in the wider MMA community as legitimate fighters. With these spoils, bet your entire paycheck that ONE Championship will do what they can to keep Reinier de Ridder and more around.

And that’s okay. While it would be amazing to see Israel Adesanya take on the onslaught that is de Ridder, a direct competitor must come around one of these days. There will be a shift in the way MMA business is conducted. The fact that ONE wants to keep a hold on the talent they’ve cultivated themselves is a good sign of this to come. Eventually fans will be even louder on wanting to see the best fight the best, even if they are in different promotions. This opens the door for more promotions to become players, as it should be.


In addition to covering ONE for My MMA News, Blaine Henry, the author, also analyzes fights from all combat sports across the globe. 

Blaine Henry can be found on Twitter, on his podcast, and Patreon.

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