Anatoly Malykhin Stops Reinier De Ridder To Become Historic Three-Division MMA World Champion

Anatoly Malykhin

Anatoly “Sladkiy” Malykhin made MMA history in the main event of ONE 166: Qatar.

On Friday, March 1, the Russian superstar defeated Reinier de Ridder to claim his ONE Middleweight MMA World Championship and become the first man in the sport to win World Titles across three different weight classes.

This blockbuster showdown, which marked ONE Championship’s landmark on-ground debut in Qatar, was a rematch of the pair’s December 2022 showdown, where Malykhin knocked out the Dutchman to capture the light heavyweight belt.

With over a year of animosity built up between these two warriors, the tension in the packed Lusail Sports Arena was palpable.

Through the bout’s opening minutes, De Ridder showcased some new weapons in the stand-up department, even dropping “Sladkiy” with a stunning jab.

But despite the Dutchman’s improved striking, Malykhin showed no fear in charging forward behind thunderous boxing combinations. Widely regarded as perhaps the sport’s hardest pound-for-pound puncher, the Russian consistently forced his foe against the Circle Wall where he unloaded big blows to the body and head.

Malykhin continued to press forward in the second frame. For his part, “The Dutch Knight” made some progress on bringing the fight to the canvas, but he lacked the horsepower needed to finish any takedowns.

By the start of the third stanza, De Ridder was showing serious signs of fatigue. Sensing blood in the water, “Sladkiy” refused to take his foot off the gas pedal, landing several soul-crushing body shots and even a knee to the head.

In a last-ditch effort to secure a submission, “The Dutch Knight” pulled Malykhin into his guard. The Russian quickly escaped and returned to his feet. Referee Herb Dean ordered De Ridder to stand up, but when he was unable to continue, it forced the ref to bring an official end to the contest at the 1:16 mark of round three.

The 36-year-old Russian sensation is now an unprecedented three-division MMA World Champion, adding the ONE Middleweight MMA World Title to a trophy case that also includes the organization’s heavyweight and light heavyweight belts.

What’s more, Malykhin improved his unblemished career record to 14-0 and maintained his 100 percent finishing rate to further solidify his status as one of the greatest MMA fighters to ever don the 4-ounce gloves.

Fittingly, this epic showing earned “Sladkiy” a US$50,000 performance bonus from ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong.

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