Former ONE middleweight world champion Vitaly Bigdash is gearing up for one of the biggest fights of his career at ONE 159 on July 22. The Russian juggernaut faces undefeated two-division world champion Reinier de Ridder in the evening’s main event.
It’s been more than five long years since Bigdash has had ONE gold wrapped around his waist. Intent on becoming a two-time middleweight world champion, Bigdash has turned to Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket, Thailand to guide him through his training. Joining interim heavyweight titleholder Anatoly Malykhin, Bigdash is ready to seize the moment.
In a recent post on Instagram, Bigdash shared a picture of himself looking absolutely shredded, with the caption:
“#belttimebaby➰🏆💯✅ #bigdashteam ☝️”
Vitaly Bigdash first reached the top of the mountain at ONE: Tigers of Asia in October 2015. Defeating the inaugural champ Igor Svirid via second-round TKO, Bigdash became the promotion’s middleweight king, though his reign was short-lived.
In 2017, ‘The Burmese Python’ Aung La N Sang defeated Bigdash and took the belt in a rematch of their first bout just months prior. Since then, he has been working his way back to a world title opportunity.
Aung La N Sang discusses the highly-anticipated Reinier de Ridder vs. Vitaly Bigdash showdown
Defeating Aung La N Sang in a trilogy bout at ONE: Full Circle this year, Vitaly Bigdash finally earned his shot. On July 22, he’ll step into the circle as the next man to try and take Reinier de Ridder’s ‘O’ and one of his two world championships.
Having completed a trilogy with Bigdash and back-to-back bouts with ‘The Dutch Knight’, few men are as familiar with both competitors as ‘The Burmese Python’.
Speaking to ONE Championship, Aung La offered his thoughts on the world title showdown, but stopped short of predicting a winner.
“It’s going to be a good fight. They’re both very good competitors. I’m excited about it, and I’m very familiar with both of them. I’ve spent, what, one to two hours [competing] with them? It’s an exciting matchup for me, and I’m really looking forward to who’s going to win that one.”
Aung La was complimentary of Bigdash, citing his well-rounded skills and high fight IQ.
“Physically, [Bigdash] is very strong. Skill set-wise, he has good striking, but he has great wrestling and submissions as well. If your defense is not on point, or something’s not on point, he will take advantage of that. He’s very sharp in terms of MMA fight IQ, and he’s always in tremendous shape.”
On the flip side, ‘The Burmese Python’ talked about de Ridder’s dangerous grappling skills and his ability to close the distance against skilled strikers.
“[Reinier de Ridder’s best qualities are] his range, how long he is, and his grappling. When you fight taller opponents, you have to close the distance, but he wants to close the distance as well, because he’s a better grappler than he is a striker, so it’s interesting. He has interesting attributes. His grappling is very good. His wrestling is okay, but his jiu-jitsu is very good.”