What’s the story: Reinier de Ridder vs Vitaly Bigdash at ONE 159

Reinier de Ridder (left) and Vitaly Bigdash (right) [Photo Credit: ONE Championship]
Reinier de Ridder (left) and Vitaly Bigdash (right) [Photo Credit: ONE Championship]

Dutch double champion Reinier de Ridder will look to defend the ONE middleweight title against Vitaly Bigdash in the main event of ONE 159 on July 22. Both top combatants are on an impressive win streak and will be looking to leave as the undisputed world champion.

'The Dutch Knight' has had an incredible few years. He is currently a double champion in ONE, holding titles in the middleweight and light heavyweight divisions. Most recently, Reinier de Ridder defeated welterweight champion Kiamrian Abbasov in a dominant performance. He also grappled to a draw against heavyweight Brazilian jiu-jitsu all-time great Andre Galvao.

After capturing two titles, defeating the welterweight champion, and grappling with a heavyweight great, Reinier de Ridder has requested a shot at the heavyweight title to become a triple champion. In his post-fight interview at ONE X, he said:

"Give me Bhullar. If they don't want to do it at heavyweight, if he doesn't want to do it at heavyweight, I'll put my belt on the line. Let's do it at light heavyweight... Historic thing to get three belts... Bhullar is the one, he's the champ, he's the real champ. Otherwise, [Anatoly] Malykhin is there as well. But, Bhullar is my main focus."

But before he can change weight classes, he will have his hands full against former champion Vitaly Bigdash.

Russian-born Bigdash is currently on a win streak and most recently completed his trilogy against former double champion Aung La N Sang. Bigdash and 'The Burmese Python' shared the ONE circle in their first two bouts trading the middleweight title back and forth.

The two were tied one-on-one in the series and Bigdash was able to score the victory in the rubber match earlier this year, but without a title on the line. After defeating the former titleholder in his series of wins, Bigdash is now looking to capture his former belt. The Russian called out Reinier de Ridder earlier this year.

In an interview with ONE, the undefeated two-division champion broke down Bigdash's game and said:

“[Bigdash] takes his time, picks his shots. There are a lot of single shots on the feet which is smart sometimes. His shots are pretty straight, pretty clean. But he’s predictable, and he gets tired very easily... He’s going to be tired by the end of the first. And he is going to be done by the end of the second.”

Reinier de Ridder is an impressive champion with an undefeated record. He began judo at age five, which helped him grow into a very talented submission fighter. With fifteen consecutive victories to his record, it is worth noting that over seventy percent of these wins have come via submission.

Vitaly Bigdash is a wrestling-heavy fighter who seeks takedowns and top position. In his victory against Aung La N Sang, he was able to control his opponent by securing takedowns and holding him against the cage. This Russian fighter has won half of his fights via submission.

Despite his wrestling-heavy style, Bigdash started his martial arts career in Kyokushin karate when he was young and eventually moved to Muay Thai. He won his ONE Championship debut with a TKO victory.

Former champion Aung La Nsang on Reinier de Ridder vs. Vitaly Bigdash

Reinier de Ridder and Vitaly Bigdash have a significant opponent in common - Aung La N Sang. 'The Burmese Python' made history when he held two titles in ONE Championship and is familiar with the main event combatants.

The ONE 159 main event fighters have fought Aung La in a total of five combined bouts. Reinier de Ridder has two wins against the former champion, one via submission and one via decision, while Bigdash has two wins and one loss, all via decision. All three fighters share a tremendous amount of respect for the skills of one another.

Being familiar with both men, Aung La N Sang weighed in on this middleweight title fight. Speaking to ONE Championship, he said:

“It’s going to be a good fight. They’re both very good competitors, so I’m excited for it, and I’m very familiar with both of them. It’s going to be a good one. It’s an exciting matchup for me and I’m really looking forward to who’s going to win that one... I’m friendly towards them and I’m respectful towards them. I’m not best friends with either of them. And given the chance, I’ll fight them again in a heartbeat. I don’t know, but I feel like if I finish the next few middleweights that I fight, I’ll be back in the mix.”

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Edited by Avinash Tewari