‘I Get Scared Of Myself’ – Anatoly Malykhin Oozes Confidence Ahead Of World Title Rematch With Reinier De Ridder

Anatoly Malykhin is declared winner against Reinier de Ridder at ONE on Prime Video 5

Here’s a frightening proposition: Undefeated ONE Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight MMA World Champion Anatoly “Sladkiy” Malykhin believes he’s only getting better.

The two-division kingpin has been busy preparing for his blockbuster main event clash with Reinier de Ridder at ONE 166: Qatar this Friday, March 1.

That contest at Lusail Sports Arena will be Malykhin’s chance to become an unprecedented three-division MMA World Champion, as he’ll be challenging for “The Dutch Knight’s” ONE Middleweight MMA World Title.

The fight is also a rematch of their December 2022 clash, where the heavy-handed Russian knocked out De Ridder in devastating fashion to capture the light heavyweight MMA crown.

With a chance to make history this week, Malykhin and his team at Tiger Muay Thai have put together perhaps the hardest training camp of his 13-fight professional career. 

While it’s certainly been demanding on his body, “Sladkiy” told onefc.com that he’s in high spirits:

“My every day looks perfect! I wake up with my family by my side – my son, my wife. I know the reason for getting up every day. I am motivated and charged.

“And that’s how every week goes. I spend a lot of time with my family, but I also have to spend a lot of time with my coach, Johnny [Hutchinson] – we do a lot of training.”

Even though Malykhin made relatively quick work of De Ridder in their first meeting, he’s not taking any chances in the rematch.

After all, the Dutch star came into that last fight undefeated and widely regarded as one of the planet’s most dangerous grapplers, having won three of his previous four MMA World Title fights via submission.

Naturally, “Sladkiy” has put extra focus on his takedown defense and ground game during this training camp, but he’s also added some time in the pool as a welcome escape from the harder sessions:

“This time, we focused on wrestling. I’m pretty sure De Ridder will try to wrestle with me. We worked a lot on freestyle wrestling, so it would be hard to take me down, and we also worked on jiu-jitsu.

“But there was also one new thing – I swam a lot. Swimming is good for cardio, and it can be relaxing in general. It’s like meditation for me.” 

The training has paid off. Slim and lean, the 36-year-old appears in the finest shape of his career just days before his ONE middleweight debut.

Malykhin also reports that the drop in weight hasn’t been a problem. In fact, he sees himself in peak condition – more inspired than ever to earn the victory:

“I feel great this time around. Sometimes during shadowboxing or hitting bags, I get scared of myself. I’m very fast and very strong. I’m tough and very motivated.

“I want to make history, and that’s what pushes me to get up early in the morning and give it 100 percent.”

Malykhin Warns De Ridder: ‘Going To Be The Same As Last Time’

Anatoly Malykhin is the picture of confidence ahead of his shot at Reinier de Ridder and the middleweight MMA crown. Much of that confidence comes from his unwavering self-belief and trust in his training.

It also comes from the fact that just 14 months ago, he ran through “The Dutch Knight,” needing less than five minutes to secure his eighth career knockout.

With that last fight in mind, Malykhin is quick to critique his rival’s skill set:

“Surely he has already drawn conclusions from our previous encounter, but what could he do since then? I don’t think he’s learned how to fight in the stand-up, or how to punch hard, or how to freestyle wrestle.”

“Sladkiy” knows that De Ridder will have made some strategic adjustments, but he isn’t concerned. That’s because the two-division king has never been one for detailed game plans.

Instead, Malykhin expects to keep doing exactly what’s been successful in all five of his ONE Championship appearances – throw heavy leather with ruthless intentions until his opponent crumbles.

He added:

“De Ridder has realized how dangerous I am. Together with his team, he has come up with some new plan. But the scary thing for all my opponents is that I don’t have a plan for any fight at all. I just go out there and do what I love doing and enjoy it. 

“When we get in the cage with De Ridder, we’ll see right away what De Ridder can do at middleweight. I think it’s going to be the same as last time.”

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