5 Reasons To Watch ONE 166: Qatar On March 1

Reinier De Ridder is victorious at ONE 159

This Friday, March 1, ONE Championship will touch down at the beautiful Lusail Sports Arena in Qatar for a groundbreaking martial arts event.

ONE 166: Qatar will mark the organization’s debut in the nation. And fittingly, it will include some of the year’s biggest matchups, along with a host of elite local talent.

Topped by a trio of high-stakes World Title bouts and featuring a number of global superstars, the 10-fight slate is designed to deliver drama and action from start to finish.

As fight week begins, here are five reasons why ONE 166: Qatar is a can’t-miss event.

#1 Anatoly Malykhin Could Make MMA History

The main event will see current ONE Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight MMA World Champion Anatoly “Sladkiy” Malykhin vie to become an unprecedented three-division king when he rematches middleweight MMA ruler Reinier de Ridder.

In December 2022, the unbeaten Russian superstar knocked out De Ridder to capture the light heavyweight crown, handing “The Dutch Knight” his first career defeat in the process.

Then last June, Malykhin decimated Arjan “Singh” Bhullar to claim the undisputed ONE Heavyweight MMA World Title and extend his unblemished 13-0 career record with a 100 percent finishing rate.

“Sladkiy” will now challenge for De Ridder’s ONE Middleweight MMA World Title and look to do what no athlete has ever done before – simultaneously hold MMA World Titles in three different weight classes.

#2 Three World Title Rematches

In addition to the highly anticipated showdown between Malykhin and De Ridder in the main event, ONE 166: Qatar will feature two more World Title rematches.

First, ONE Strawweight MMA World Champion Jarred “The Monkey God” Brooks will run it back with the man he dethroned – Joshua “The Passion” Pacio.

Pacio has been a mainstay atop the talent-laden strawweight MMA division since 2018, but his World Title reign ended in December 2022 when he suffered a hard-fought decision loss to Brooks.

The Filipino fan favorite has since bounced back to the win column and is aiming to reclaim the 26 pounds of gold.

However, the brash American titleholder has been one of MMA’s hardest puzzles to solve, as his all-around arsenal features explosive wrestling and incredible fight IQ.

Also, the ONE Featherweight MMA World Title will be up for grabs when divisional king Tang Kai returns from an injury layoff to take on interim titleholder Thanh Le in a unification battle.

These two knockout artists first met in August 2022, as Tang emerged victorious after a five-round war to claim the featherweight crown and become China’s first male MMA World Champion.

With the Chinese star on the sidelines, Le captured the interim belt in emphatic fashion, submitting Russian prodigy Ilya Freymanov in just 62 seconds last October at ONE Fight Night 15.

One man will leave Qatar as the undisputed ONE Featherweight MMA World Champion when these proven finishers go toe-to-toe once again.

#3 The Return Of Boxing To ONE

For the first time since 2018, boxing is set to feature in a ONE Championship event.

Muay Thai icon Mehdi “Diamond Heart” Zatout will come out of a short-lived retirement to test his hands against unbeaten Saudi Arabian star Zuhayr “The Arabian Warrior” Al-Qahtani in an intriguing 147-pound catchweight tilt.

For Zatout, the chance to make his professional boxing debut represents a dream come true. It could also be a dramatic finish to his incredible career, which has seen him compete alongside the planet’s best strikers in well over 100 Muay Thai and kickboxing bouts.

Al-Qahtani, meanwhile, is a trailblazer of the “sweet science” in the Middle East, and he’s promising to put on a show for his legions of fans in Qatar.

#4 A Showcase Of The Middle East’s Finest Talent

ONE’s debut in Qatar will bring together the region’s top martial artists.

In addition to Al-Qahtani, ONE 166 will see the return of Iranian superstar Amir Aliakbari. The hulking wrestler turned knockout artist could punch his ticket to a ONE Heavyweight MMA World Title shot – and make his fans proud – if he gets past former titleholder Bhullar.

Lower on the card, Yemeni-Saudi Arabian BJJ standout Osamah Almarwai will make his sophomore appearance in ONE when he locks horns with Cleber “Clandestino” Sousa in a key flyweight submission grappling contest.

As the first-ever Middle Eastern IBJJF Black Belt World Champion, “Osa” is carrying the torch for grappling in the region, and a win over the decorated Brazilian would only grow his star power.

Also, Turkish phenom Zafer Sayik will make his much-anticipated debut on the global stage in a catchweight Muay Thai clash against talented Russian scrapper Vladimir Kuzmin, while Arabian K-1 Champion Zakaria El Jamari will face Tajikistan’s Ali Saldoev in a flyweight Muay Thai tilt.

#5 ONE’s Groundbreaking Debut In Qatar

Beyond the individual matchups and international superstars competing at ONE 166, the event will be the organization’s historic debut in Qatar.

Importantly, the blockbuster fight card marks ONE’s expansion into the Middle East – a region steeped in martial arts and combat sports. The event is sure to draw global attention to the country of Qatar and all it has to offer.

If ONE’s debut on American soil last year was any indication, fans can expect each and every fighter to be supremely motivated to put on an unforgettable show this Friday.

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