Reinier de Ridder was on holiday when the call came to replace Vitaly Bigdash at ONE on TNT Part IV last week. But it didn’t take long for the Dutchman to accept the light heavyweight title fight fight with Aung La Nsang,

“I was on the beach with my family when I got the call on Thursday morning. I wanted to say yes straight away, but I said, ‘Let me get two seconds to talk to my wife.’ Then I called right back and said, ‘let’s do it’.”

De Ridder has not been lounging on a beach since his last win over La Nsang though. He accepted a welterweight title fight with Kiamrian Abbasov and had been training for that until the bout was called off a couple of weeks ago.

That’s when the Dutchman decided to take a holiday but he is still fighting fit,

“I train every day of my life and I was going with full intensity because of a fight I was scheduled to take with Abbasov so I’m in great shape.”

Fitter and stronger

While De Ridder had abandoned his training camp when Abbasov pulled out he does not think that having a bit of time off will have done him any harm,

“I’m fitter and stronger than ever, and I’m very sharp. I’d just taken a week off for the holidays, but maybe that benefited me as well.”

With so many last minute cancellations in the Covid-19 era De Ridder admits he was aware there was at least the possibility that he would get the call,

“It was something in the back of my mind the last couple of weeks, so I never really let go of the training and never really let go of the killer mindset,” he said.

True martial artist

While the fight with Abbasov would have been for the Russian’s welterweight title De Ridder now finds himself challenging La Nsang for the light heavyweight belt. Given the lack of notice he would have been unable to make a lighter weight,

“I didn’t have too much time (to diet). I’m eating a lot right now, which is different for me on fight week, and I’m at a decent weight, 97 or 98kgs, which is my regular weight.”

La Nsang finds himself in a slightly different situation. He had originally trained for a middleweight match with Bigdash so is in fight shape but competing in a higher weight than originally anticipated.

De Ridder submitted La Nsang at ONE: ‘Inside the Matrix’, winning the middleweight title in the process. He thinks that loss will have lit a fire under the popular Burmese fighter,

“I expect him to be very much ready and I expect him to be the best I’ve ever faced. After a loss like that, that early and that dominant, I think he will have been very active in the last six months trying to correct his mistakes. He’s a true martial artist, so I don’t expect anything else.”

Different fight

One takedown was all it took in that fight but De Ridder believes La Nsang will have learned his lesson and will make things much more difficult second time around,

“I think it’s going to be a little more of a hassle to get him down this time. Last time he ran toward me and tried to put the pressure on early, which really benefited me in taking him down. I think this time he is going to be a little more hesitant, a little more careful, so I’m going to have to put in some more work to get him down but I still see him ending up on the ground and getting choked out again.”

But De Ridder is not exactly lacking in confidence. He thinks the onus will be on him to take La Nsang down and submit him and the Dutchman is confident he can do just that,

“I think this is going to be a completely different fight. It’s going to be up to me to push the pace. I’m going to press him back, hit him with some good shots, take him down, and choke him out.”