Reinier de Ridder Praises Christian Lee, Believes the Lightweight Champ Can ‘Compete With Anybody’

Published 08/19/2021, 3:46 AM EDT


ONE Championship and the UFC have established their respective organizations on opposite sides of the world. The two martial arts promotions share a global duopoly, especially where MMA is concerned.

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The latter dominates the West, while the former commands respect in the East, with each company beginning to expand even further, beyond the confines of the cage. And while ONE Championship is the younger of the two combat sports titans, the ground it has made up in the last decade is significant, especially in terms of the talent signed to its roster.

“The big names coming over from the UFC have really struggled in ONE,” said Reinier de Ridder, ONE’s middleweight and light heavyweight titleholder.

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De Ridder was referring to former UFC fighters Demetrious Johnson, Eddie Alvarez, and Sage Northcutt, who joined ONE in 2018 but suffered unprecedented setbacks in their time inside the Circle so far.

Alvarez is 1-2 (1NC) in the promotion, dropping a decision loss to Ok Rae Yoon last April, in addition to a debilitating knockout loss to Timofey Nastyukhin in his promotional debut. 

Northcutt made his ONE debut against Cosmo Alexandre, but was stopped with a single punch which caused facial fractures that have sidelined the promising star for months. 

Johnson, on the other hand, suffered the first stoppage loss in his career in a failed bid at the ONE World Title against Adriano Moraes.

“The top guys for the UFC come over to ONE and [they] have really struggled,” De Ridder added.

Both Johnson and Alvarez were champions during their time with the UFC, with Johnson defending his 125-pound belt 11 times, a promotional record.

Conversely, ONE’s double-champ expressed his confidence in Singaporean superstar Christian “The Warrior” Lee, the reigning ONE Lightweight World Champion. De Ridder lauded Lee’s potential to find success against any opposition, irrespective of their organization.

“All the guys in ONE, especially those who are performing well, can really do a lot of damage in the UFC. If you look at the [ONE] champions like Christian Lee, I think he can compete with anybody in the world. Including every fighter in the UFC,” De Ridder said.

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“The level [of ONE and UFC athletes] is pretty much comparable. Both have great fighters. I think a lot of the fighters from Asia actually have better striking than most of the Americans.”

De Ridder went on to explain that the differences between ONE and the UFC lie more in the way the organizations market their respective offerings. While ONE puts an emphasis on the values of martial arts like respect, discipline, and humility, the UFC focuses more on the confrontation and the creation of a spectacle.

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“It’s fun to talk about,” De Ridder said about a co-promoted event. “So let’s go and talk about it.”

In the same interview, De Ridder also detailed how he would defeat UFC champions Israel Adesanya and Jan Blachowicz, should he ever meet them inside the cage.

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Varun Khanna

1332 articles

Starting off as a tennis author in 2018, Varun Khanna has gone on to contribute to EssentiallySports in various capacities. After setting up interviews with the likes of Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou, Alizé Cornet, and Noah Rubin, Varun is now part of all major ATP and WTA press conferences and has gone on to pen more than 1300 articles for EssentiallySports. He now heads the tennis and NBA division of the organization.

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