Image from ONE Championship: Jay Furness

In his second bout for ONE Championship, elite judoka Duke Didier says he is prepared to bite down on his mouthpiece and push the pace against his opponent, Canadian NCAA wrestler Ben Tynan.

On April 5, Duke Didier (8-2-0) will make his long-awaited return when he takes on Ben Tynan (5-0-0) in a massive heavyweight clash at ONE Fight Night 21: Eersel vs. Nicolas.

In an exclusive interview, Duke Didier revealed how he expects his match-up with Tynan to play out, as he believes it’s going to be a ‘messy’ fight.

“Two grapplers in a ring can go one of two ways; it could be very messy, very grapple-heavy,” Didier told The Inner Sanctum.

“Or it could be an absolute banger where the two grapplers will cancel each other out and they sort of go in and strike, I can see it going either way.

“If it becomes an ugly grapple-fest, I’m going to be prepared and if our takedowns negate themselves, I’m prepared to bite down on that mouthpiece and see where it takes me.”

‘The Duke of Canberra’ has been in the gym since the beginning of this year, having been ready for the fight to go ahead since he got the call on Christmas Day.

“It’s going to be very unique,” he said. “I think I’ve only fought one or two grapplers in the past, so I’m looking forward to a new challenge.

“It’s in a ring, so that’s also a different parameter that we have to take into account.

“The key focus for this camp is conditioning, so I’m just going to make sure that I’m fit and strong enough to be able to push the pace for three five-minute rounds.

“I’ve got a lifetime of grappling behind me now, so just fine-tuning that and as always, working on my striking.”

‘The Duke’ last fought for ONE in June 2022 and did so on a week’s notice, but since then he has remained consistent with training and done his best to stay active across Australia’s grappling circuit.

“[Grappling] was a way for me to avoid that sort of rust” he said.

“That’s what I did while I was unable to get matched, I was just being as active as I could be and hopefully that mitigates any kind of ring rust.”

Didier spoke about his first fight within the organisation, claiming the experience was a “whirlwind”, but he remains “very grateful” for the opportunity to compete and is ready to put on a show.

“Now that I’ve had ample time to prepare, I think you’re going to see a more relaxed, grounded approach and hopefully a more complete approach as well,” he said.

“Because of my judo background and my grappling, I’ve always just lent heavy on the grappling side of things.

“Hopefully, due to the skill acquisition I’ve been able to do over the last couple of years, we’ll be able to see more of a well-rounded approach to my performance.”

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‘The Duke’ had high praise for ONE Championship, particularly for introducing submission grappling divisions, which he revealed he would love to be a part of.

“I’d always put my hand up for submission grappling, a lot less stressful than MMA, so it’s a lot more enjoyable, the endgame’s not quite as drastic,” he said.

“If they ask me to do a grappling match, I’ll be there with bells on.”

However with the fight against Tynan looming, Didier isn’t looking past the “very skilled athlete” in front of him right now.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to perform on this platform and I’m going to get this win, once I get this win, maybe I can start thinking about who to call out,” he said.

Duke Didier trains out of his Canberra-based gym Progression MMA and Fitness, which he opened over a year ago, while also training at Melbourne-based gym Australian Elite Team.

“I was based in Melbourne and moved back to Canberra where I was born to open this facility and it’s been the most rewarding year of my life, it’s been awesome,” he said.

“The gym has been an overwhelming success, we’ve got just under 300 members in a year so we’re pretty busy, we’ve got a lot of good talent coming through as well.

“I still make regular trips down to Melbourne to meet up with my old training crew and fine-tune my training.”

Didier first started coaching when the pandemic hit due to fights around the world being put on hold and said he originally coached not out of the love of it but out of necessity.

“I was given some opportunities to coach in Melbourne and then I really started to fall in love with that, with coaching I saw not just the enjoyment aspect of it, I saw that there could be a bit of a financial reward for doing it,” he said.

“When I thought about opening my own facility, it was always going to be back here in Canberra. I just saw too many holes in the market and no one’s really doing what I’m doing here.

“So it was a good opportunity to take advantage of the explosion of MMA and grappling.

“I always thought of the mainstream appeal of it all and utilised the 25-26 years of experience I’ve got to give back to the next generation.”

Watch ‘The Duke of Canberra’ return to ONE Championship at ONE Fight Night 21: Eersel vs. Nicolas on Friday, April 5, live from Lumpinee Boxing Stadium, Bangkok.

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