‘Incredibly Cool’ – Anatoly Malykhin Reacts To Celebrity Soccer Match Invite From Rodtang

Reinier de Ridder Anatoly Malykhin ONE 166 9

Reigning ONE World Champions Anatoly “Sladkiy” Malykhin and Rodtang “The Iron Man” Jitmuangnon have more than just fighting skills.  

Just days after his three-round victory over Denis “The Bosnian Menace” Puric at ONE 167 on June 7, Rodtang pulled on his jersey to play for Fight Knights in a soccer match at Idol League – a Thai competition that invites celebrities to raise money for charity. 

“The Iron Man” is a regular feature in these games, and with Malykhin already in Bangkok to watch the action at Impact Arena over the weekend, Rodtang invited the three-division MMA king to join the action.

Always game for a new challenge, “Sladkiy” jumped in for the second half of the match against Online All Stars and had an incredible time. 

Afterward, Malykhin reflected on the unique opportunity:

“Today I experienced Thai football for the first time. The players are amazing. They play so well, and they’re so fast and skilled. But most importantly, they are humble and welcoming.  

“They welcomed me into the team and gave me the captain’s armband, which made me feel a sense of responsibility.  

“My heart was pounding like before a fight, but I went out on the field for the second half, and we immediately went on the attack. With my help, we scored a goal!” 

Fight Knights would register a dominant 5-0 victory – something both Rodtang and Malykhin are used to doing in fights – but “Sladkiy” enjoyed the experience more than the result.  

With millions of viewers tuning in to watch Idol League throughout the season, it was a much bigger spectacle than the 36-year-old Russian expected, and he left with great memories: 

“There was a real show there! TV broadcast, cameras, commentators, spotlights. I thought we would just play in a hangar, but it was a whole event. It was a great game. It was awesome. 

“I got incredibly cool impressions from it. They were kind, open, and cheerful people. I saw in them not just a football team, but a real family. Everyone helps each other, supports each other, and asks how things are going. 

“I’m so grateful to Rodtang for the invitation. The attitude toward me in the team was like toward their own.” 

Rodtang And Denis Puric Bond After Battle At ONE 167 

It seems the ultimate mark of Rodtang Jitmuangnon’s respect is to be invited to play soccer with him. 

Following their epic flyweight kickboxing clash at ONE 167, “The Iron Man” welcomed Denis Puric to participate, and the pair also spent the day together alongside family and friends.  

Proving that martial arts competition is not about hostility, the hard-hitting strikers bonded personally following their intense clash and became fast friends. 

Puric wrote on Instagram afterward:

“Today was truly one of the best days of my life. Thank you again brother for this wonderful experience and hospitality. Today we became brothers for life.” 

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