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What is Next For Two-Division ONE World Champ Anatoly Malykhin?

LockerRoom Team
Calendar Icon06 December 2022

If anybody was doubting Anatoly Malykhin’s fighting prowess before, they certainly aren’t anymore.  

The Russian slugger converted critics into believers this past Saturday, 3 December, when he flattened former two-division ONE World Champion Reinier de Ridder in the first round at ONE Fight Night 5 to capture the latter’s ONE Light Heavyweight World Title.  

In doing so, the ONE Interim Heavyweight World Champion became the first fighter in the promotion’s history to beat a double-champ and simultaneously become one at the same time.  

After ending the year in incredible fashion, let’s look ahead at who could potentially be standing in front of “Sladkiy” in 2023. 

Arjan Bhullar 

While ONE Heavyweight World Champion Arjan Bhullar recovered from an injury, Malykhin faced and knocked out Kirill Grishenko in February to claim the ONE Interim Heavyweight World Title. 

Then, Malykhin was supposed to unify belts with Bhullar in September, but the Indian-Canadian withdrew due to another injury.  

ALSO READ | ONE on Prime Video 5 Results: Malykhin becomes double champion, KOs De Ridder

It has been almost two years since Bhullar’s last outing in the Circle. Now, he says he’s ready to return to action, but Malykhin believes Bhullar is a “chicken.”  

Should the two titans finally collide in 2023, the heavyweight mountaintop will finally have an undisputed king. 

Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida 

If a unification bout is not next on the cards, a strong contender for Malykhin’s interim crown is Brazil’s Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida. 

The Brazilian gargantuan has followed a similar path to Malykhin since arriving in ONE in September 2021. So far, Almeida has beaten all four of his opponents inside the Circle. 

Despite his decorated background in BJJ and 138-14-1 grappling record, Almeida has also demonstrated ferocious power in his hands, which were on display when he knocked Simon Carson out at ONE 158 in June.  

ALSO READ | ONE 164 Results: Jarred Brooks outclasses Joshua Pacio to capture the title

The 32-year-old has yet to see the second round of his professional MMA career, and with his dominant skill set, he could soon find himself in title contention. 


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