Reinier De Ridder Vs. Anatoly Malykhin II: 4 Keys To Middleweight MMA World Title Victory At ONE 166: Qatar

Reinier de Ridder vs. Anatoly Malykhin II Faceoff

Reinier “The Dutch Knight” de Ridder will be looking for redemption while Anatoly “Sladkiy” Malykhin is aiming for history when they rematch in the main event of ONE 166: Qatar.  

Malykhin took the light heavyweight MMA belt from De Ridder with a first-round knockout when they first squared off in December 2022. Now, the undefeated Russian superstar will vie for unprecedented three-division glory as he challenges for the Dutchman’s ONE Middleweight MMA World TItle this Friday, March 1.

Things would have to look drastically different for “The Dutch Knight” to level the score, but he feels hungrier than ever following his first career defeat. Meanwhile, Malykhin can only be confident after the way he demolished his foe the first time around. 

Here are the biggest keys to victory for both men in their highly anticipated matchup on a groundbreaking card at the Lusail Sports Arena.

#1 De Ridder’s Range Management 

De Ridder had never faced a puncher as fierce as Malykhin until their first matchup, and having never tasted defeat, he might have thought his chin could handle the task. 

However, it’s clear that being in the way of “Sladkiy’s” power is a no-go, which means safety is the top priority. For “The Dutch Knight,” that will come when he’s either far away or right in close.

The Combat Brothers representative has a 5-inch height advantage, and while that only translates to an inch and a half of reach, he’ll have to make the most of it with movement and kicks to keep Malykhin off him.  

The crucial transition will be going from long range into the clinch while spending as little time as possible in “Sladkiy’s” firing line.  

De Ridder needs to be fast and tight as he comes forward, but if the judo black belt can get his hands on Malykhin, he’ll have his best shot at getting things to the ground, where he wants the action to take place. 

Hustling in the clinch will also help him wear down the physically imposing challenger, who has never been to a decision in his MMA career.

#2 Malykhin’s Defensive Wrestling 

Malykhin knows exactly what De Ridder is aiming for. With a BJJ black belt to go alongside his judo skills, “The Dutch Knight” has submitted 11 of his opponents to date – but he needs to get the Russian on the mat.  

This is where it isn’t so simple. Although knocking people out is now his favorite pastime, “Sladkiy” was a decorated amateur wrestler before he switched to MMA. 

Malykhin now has an incredible 100 percent success rate defending takedowns in ONE – including all six of De Ridder’s attempts last time – but he’ll still have to be wary of that threat from “The Dutch Knight.” 

Knowing his shots were fruitless last time, De Ridder will surely have worked on different entries and finishes, so Malykhin should expect to face new attacks this time.

Successfully stuffing the defending king’s takedowns will open up chances to land big shots in the transitions, too, so the unbeaten 36-year-old will aim to turn defense into offense in the blink of an eye.  

#3 De Ridder’s Top Game 

Getting to a dominant position won’t be easy for De Ridder, but it would be worthwhile. 

“The Dutch Knight” has a smothering top game that is hard to escape from. He is patient when the situation requires it, using his ground-and-pound to set up opportunities to advance his position and pass guard.  

He is also adept at getting to the back and uses his long limbs to maintain control while he looks for the rear-naked choke.  

If Malykhin does find a window to work up to his knees to escape, De Ridder will have a chance to attack from the turtle position, where he’s very effective with his D’Arce choke and knee strikes to the head – both of which have earned him finishes in ONE. 

Add Malykhin’s unfamiliarity of being on his back combined with De Ridder’s relentless offense, and you could have the recipe for success to even their rivalry at 1-1. 

#4 Malykhin’s Power Punching 

Given his ferocious punching power and ever-improving boxing, Malykhin only needs one opening to secure a finish.

The Russian has no fear of De Ridder’s striking at longer range, and he knows his rival will have to close the distance to initiate any takedown attempts.  

If De Ridder tries to use straight punches to fend off Malykhin, expect the latter to wing his powerful right hand over the top in search of his taller foe’s chin.  

It doesn’t just have to be a bludgeoning exercise, though, as the reigning heavyweight and light heavyweight MMA titleholder has shown more skill with his movement, feints, and setups in every outing.

Malykhin can also vary his shot selection if a cautious De Ridder is hyper-focused on protecting his head, switching to the body with powerful hooks like he did to Arjan “Singh” Bhullar.  

Above all, “Sladkiy” blends concussive power with a high-intensity work rate. He’ll hope this relentless barrage will once again overwhelm “The Dutch Knight” and help him make history by winning World Title gold in a third division.  

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