‘Something No One Has Ever Done’ – Anatoly Malykhin Eager To Make History At ONE 166
Anatoly “Sladkiy” Malykhin is extremely motivated to etch his name in the ONE Championship record books.
The reigning ONE Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight MMA World Champion will attempt to become the only three-division MMA World Champion in the organization when he challenges middleweight king Reinier “The Dutch Knight” de Ridder at ONE 166: Qatar on Friday, March 1.
Headlining the promotion’s debut in the Middle Eastern country, Malykhin will look for another victory over his Dutch rival when they rematch at Lusail Sports Arena.
When they first met back in December 2022, “Sladkiy” dominated De Ridder en route to a first-round knockout, winning the light heavyweight belt in the process. This time, the hard-hitting Russian is aiming to claim yet another throne – unlike anyone before him.
Malykhin told onefc.com:
“I agreed to this challenge because it’s something no one has ever done before me.”
Given the one-sided nature of their original encounter, Malykhin feels extremely confident in his ability to deliver a similar result this time.
With a stoppage win over Arjan Bhullar to unify the heavyweight MMA gold in his last outing, the 13-0 superstar is riding high, and he doesn’t see any way for “The Dutch Knight” to turn the tables in Qatar:
“De Ridder won’t have any advantage. I will just go and press him, throw a lot of punches, and everything will be the same as always. It’s going to be very hard work for him.”
Malykhin Plans To Keep Active In All Three Divisions
Although Anatoly Malykhin is confident he will defeat Reinier de Ridder at ONE 166, he’s not ready to call himself the greatest middleweight just yet.
However, he’s excited about competing in a new division – and about the fresh tests he could face in the world’s largest MMA organization.
The 35-year-old wants to fight the best opponents as often as possible, and if the move to middleweight works out, he plans to defend each of his belts in the future:
“At heavyweight, my skills allow me to consider myself the best. I have no weaknesses. And I’m one of the best light heavyweights, for sure. I can’t say that about myself in the middleweight division because this will be my first fight in this weight, and it would be arrogant to say that I’m the best without ever having fought in it.
“First of all, the plan now is to see how I feel at 93 kilograms [205 pounds]. If it goes well and I feel fine, then I will defend all the belts. The more fights, the better for me. It’s simple. I love to fight.”
The hulking Russian has been unstoppable in his professional MMA career so far, finishing every opponent in his path, but some fans wonder if his strength will translate to the lower division.
From his perspective, Malykhin doesn’t think it will have a negative effect, as long as he approaches the drop with enough discipline.
In his usual light-hearted style, “Sladkiy” explained what his biggest obstacle will be for this matchup:
“The main strategy is to stay away from the fridge after 6 p.m. If I don’t come near the fridge after that, I’m fine – I’m making weight. It is clear that cardio is also important, but the main thing is not to raid the fridge after 6 p.m.”