‘This Is Just The Beginning’ – Three-Division MMA King Anatoly Malykhin Has More Big Plans For The Future

Reinier de Ridder Anatoly Malykhin ONE 166 14

Anatoly “Sladkiy” Malykhin became the first three-division World Champion in mixed martial arts history at ONE 166: Qatar, but he believes there’s still much more to come in his combat sports journey.

The Russian superstar stopped Reinier “The Dutch Knight” de Ridder in the third round of their rematch on March 1, adding his rival’s ONE Middleweight MMA World Title to the light heavyweight and heavyweight MMA belts that already adorn his trophy cabinet.  

After a first-round knockout in their initial December 2022 meeting, De Ridder put on a better performance this time, and Malykhin felt the improvements when they locked horns inside the Circle. 

In fact, “Sladkiy” thinks the Dutchman proved he’s truly elite and could earn another shot at gold, although he’ll need to build back some momentum. 

He told onefc.com:

“This was a different Reinier to the one who weighed 102 kilos [225 pounds]. He was very strong and very motivated [at 205 pounds]. He improved his punching technique and became more dangerous and sharper.  

“Of course, I didn’t have any big problems, but Reinier hit me once and rattled me. It felt like he knocked me down a little bit. It was the first time in my career that I have been dropped, and the hardest part was to get back into the fight and win. 

“I think he’s a solid fighter. He still deserves another chance, but first, he needs to do two fights and get on a winning streak. And I need a heavyweight fight, then one at light heavyweight, and then I’m ready for a middleweight trilogy. This feud is not over.” 

Although Malykhin is thrilled to have three golden belts, he’s not satisfied with his achievements. 

The 36-year-old looks and feels better with every outing, so he’s not resting on his laurels. Instead, he has more big goals to chase in order to cement his name among the all-time greats. 

“Sladkiy” explained: 

“For me, this win does not make history. It’s always been clear I can do things in sports that no one else has ever done. I think history will be made when we get four belts and one more in boxing. Then we’ll make history. But, for now, this is just the beginning of our journey.” 

Anatoly Malykhin Sizes Up Potential Heavyweight Contenders 

With three ONE MMA World Titles to defend, Anatoly Malykhin is not short of potential challengers.  

However, with a heavyweight defense at the top of his agenda, he has narrowed his focus down to two men for his next outing:

“At the moment, I see two options. It’s “Reug Reug” [Oumar Kane] or [Amir] Aliakbari. I don’t know which one.  

“Aliakbari certainly deserves his rematch more at the moment because he’s got a four-fight winning streak and that’s very serious.” 

Aliakbari and “Reug Reug” are both impressive physical specimens with dangerous skill sets, but Malykhin is not fazed at the thought of going up against either of them. 

The Russian has every reason to be confident, with a perfect 14-0 record and 100 percent finishing rate, and he’d even bet on himself to take out both contenders back-to-back. 

“Sladkiy” added: 

“I am ready to go in the ring with both of them on the same night. 

“Amir is in very good shape now. He has good boxing, and functionally he surprises me that he can breathe for all three rounds. I can’t wait for this fight. I think the audience is waiting for it too, so let’s go. 

“Thoughts [on a fight with ‘Reug Reug’]? Knockout in round one, win a bonus, then have a good time with my family after the win.” 

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