The story behind the ONE on TNT IV main event was like the plot of a Rocky movie. The man who took one of Aung La N Sang’s titles, his middleweight belt, was back to try to take the other. Reinier de Ridder had captured middleweight gold in October, and on Wednesday was stepping up on short notice to make a play for the light heavyweight title.
Off the opening bell, De Ridder immediately shot for the double leg takedown and took N Sang down. Aung La tried to work up by the fence, but de Ridder would eventually take the back. With de Ridder riding him, the champ protected his neck, and tried to sneak out the back, working to shake de Ridder off. But de Ridder regrouped, and locked in a tight arm-triangle choke from the top. Just when it looked like N Sang might go out, he scrambled free and turned the tide. Aung La landed some big punches from the top, then backed off and chopped at the legs of de Ridder, who stayed on his back.
In the second, de Ridder went back to the well, shooting for the takedown and eventually landing it. Aung La was quickly back to his feet, first to a knee, then back up — but he immediately had to contend with another takedown attempt. The champ landed an uppercut in the clinch before de Ridder secured another brief takedown. This time, de Ridder managed to work his way to mount, forcing N Sang to cover up, but he scrambled and used to the fence to escape. Again, however, de Ridder dragged the champ down taking the back and getting one hook in. N Sang thew a back elbow, but de Ridder would transition to top and finish the round there.
Round three, rinse and repeat for de Ridder. He landed the takedown in the opening minute, and when the champ got back up, de Ridder dragged him back down. de Ridder got the back and had both hooks in, with over three minutes left in the frame. Just when N Sang looked like he was turning and getting on top, de Ridder scrambled and stayed in control. de Ridder than worked for a d’arce choke, and with that not available, the challenger fired off a number of knees at his opponent.
If Aung La N Sang was to have a hope of retaining his title at ONE on TNT IV, he was going to need to stay off his back. To do that, he was going to need to avoid, or at least stuff, the takedown. But again in round four, N Sang found himself looking up at the ceiling of the Singapore Indoor Arena. The energy being expended at scrambling, escaping, fighting off submissions, and getting up was starting to build for the champ. Through the rest of the round, N Sang had to contend with de Ridder being all over him, essentially a living, breathing wet blanket.
The fifth round was do or die for the champ. de Ridder, the fresher fighter, immediately shot the takedown. The challenger landed the trip, again putting N Sang on his back within the opening minute of the round. Within 30 seconds, to be accurate. de Ridder quickly moved to half guard, but N Sang broke free and took top position with just over half the round remaining. The champ worked the body, and tried to create space to land ground n’ pound. de Ridder tried to slide out the side, but N Sang stuck to him. Simply put, de Ridder held on, Aung La couldn’t land enough, and they’d go to the scorecards with Reinier de Ridder well in the lead. He’d win the fight, and the second of Aung La N Sang’s titles. Then, with the smoke cleared, Reinier de Ridder called out Brandon Vera for a heavyweight title fight, saying he had room for one more belt.
Official Result: Reinier de Ridder def. Aung La N Sang by unanimous decision