Europe is Calling…
In the first edition of “Europe is Calling,” we focused on German flyweight Rany Saadeh from Berlin. The 21-year-old fighter holds a record of 6-1 and is the titleholder of the British organization BAMMA. Now, we’re crossing the western border of Germany to introduce Christophe Vandijck, a Belgian fighter who competes in the welterweight division.
In contrast to Saadeh, the 29-year-old Vandijck is not one of the youngest fighters in the world of MMA, but his late start in the sport has a deeper foundation than you might notice on the surface. The Belgian didn’t have an MMA fight until he was 25, but Vandijck looks back on a lengthier martial arts base.
He started with Judo at the age of 9, won his first Belgian title at the age of 16, and he was a Belgian Judo champion 8 times altogether. At the peak of his Judo career, Vandijck was ranked number 7 on the world rankings and ended the European championship with a 5th rank. But similar to German UFC-fighter Nick Hein, failing to qualify for the Olympic games caused Vandijck to change his focus.
He started his MMA training and found an ideal partner for his fight game in the Dutch CSA Helmond gym, which is famous for its excellent kickboxing. After fighting a couple of bouts in Switzerland and Russia, the Belgian entered the Asian ONE FC organization (now ONE Championship). In his debut, he faced unbeaten Dwayne Hinds. Despite being the heavy underdog, Vandijck was stopped his opponent in the first round via TKO.
As do most former Judo fighters, Vandijck has very good throws from the clinch and a more than strong base. But his strengths are surely his strong physique and skillful ground control. He’s 7-1 at the moment with four wins by submission, two by TKO, and one by decision. His only loss came by decision against the Russian Mikhail Kolobegov two years ago. As he just started in MMA five short years ago, he could get in trouble against experienced stand-up fighters, but hasn’t been in any danger of being knocked out to this point.
It’s hard to say what Vandijck will be able to achieve in MMA, but if he continues to improve the way he has during the last couple of years, it’s quite possible that he could soon take the next step up in his career this year.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say that we’ll see him in the UFC any time soon, but he’s definitely a guy to keep an eye on. And as Nick Hein showed, it’s quite possible to start late with MMA and fight successfully in the UFC only a few years later.