With UFC 271 in the books and one of the most polarizing middleweight champions in recent memory defending his title, the debate continues as to whether Israel Adesanya is the potential GOAT of the division.
Some might argue yes, as he did defeat Anderson Silva, the man who many believe previously held the middleweight GOAT crown with an impressive, historic run. And Adesanya has dazzled just as Silva did in his prime.
Others will adamantly deny Adesanya for being the one to take the crown from Silva, believing it too early to label Israel Adesanya the greatest middleweight over Silva. Still, with the win streak he is currently on in the UFC, Adesanya is running through the division and clearing out all challengers. After each defence of his middleweight title there might come a day when he has done enough to carve out his spot on the Mount Rushmore of GOATs in the middleweight division.
Only Two GOATs?
But that’s it, right? Anderson Silva and Israel Adesanya is where the debate ends. Well that is the beauty of MMA— just when you think the debate for Greatest of All Time is over, another contender seems to creep up out of the woodwork and puts their stamp on the sport as a top fighter. Right now it is looking like Reinier de Ridder has surged into the spotlight as a top contender, though he may not have captured the attention of North American fight fans just yet.
Could Reinier de Ridder Become the Middleweight GOAT in Time?
Reinier de Ridder has seemingly been left out of the Middleweight GOAT conversation or any conversation as a top guy when fights fans discuss who is number one. It’s not really clear if it has to do with him being in another company, in this case ONE Championship, or if there’s some other reason Reinier de Ridder’s exposure to the rest of the world has been hindered.
Reinier’s credentials speak for themselves: he is the current ONE Light Heavyweight World Champion and ONE Middleweight World Champion, a rare double champ in MMA. Simultaneous double champ status in an evolving, multi-discipline sport is something to respect. Even becoming a champ in an established company like ONE is admirable.
Reinier de Ridder
|Mixed martial arts record|
Some mixed martial arts fans tend to discredit certain fighters’ bodies of work when they don’t fight for the UFC, but there is so much talent all over the world. The talent pool reaches far and wide and with companies like ONE, it is nice to see a talent like Reinier de Ridder not to be hidden on the regional circuit losing motivation until on day hanging up the gloves of a sport he excelled at so perfectly.
de Ridder also has superb grappling chops, having claimed a gold medal at the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship in 2014. While that doesn’t exactly further an argument for being the middleweight GOAT, it should give you an idea of how well-rounded his game is.
Reinier de Ridder will look to defend his middleweight title against Kiamrian Abbasov on Friday, a very dangerous opponent who could end the fight in a violent fashion. That very same day, another middleweight great, Gegard Mousasi, will be in action, looking to defend his Bellator title against Austin Vanderford.
It might be a little early still to put Reineir de Ridder neck and neck with Silva and Adesanya as the greatest middleweight. But after a 14-0 start to his career and two belts in a major promotion, it may not be long before he is firmly in the conversation.