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Anatoly Malykhin Eyes Historic Feat in Showdown Against Reinier de Ridder

LockerRoom Team
13 January 2024

Anatoly “Sladkiy” Malykhin, the current ONE Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight MMA World Champion, is gearing up for an ambitious attempt to etch his name in the ONE Championship record books. Scheduled to headline ONE 166: Qatar on Friday, March 1, Malykhin will strive to become the only three-division MMA World Champion in the organization as he challenges middleweight king Reinier “The Dutch Knight” de Ridder at the Lusail Sports Arena.

In their first encounter in December 2022, “Sladkiy” dominated De Ridder with a first-round knockout, claiming the light heavyweight belt. Now, the hard-hitting Russian seeks to secure another victory and add the middleweight crown to his collection, a feat unprecedented in ONE Championship history.

Malykhin expressed his motivation for accepting this unique challenge, stating, “I agreed to this challenge because it’s something no one has ever done before me.” Confident in his ability to replicate his earlier success, Malykhin foresees a tough bout for De Ridder:

“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.”

While confident in his upcoming match, Malykhin remains humble about his status in the middleweight division, acknowledging that this will be his first fight in the weight class. He expressed excitement about the new challenges and opportunities in the world’s largest MMA organization, emphasizing his love for competition:

“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.”

The 35-year-old Russian envisions defending all his belts in the future if the move to middleweight proves successful, stating, “The more fights, the better for me. It’s simple. I love to fight.”

Addressing concerns about his transition to the lower division, Malykhin, known for his light-hearted style, shared his strategy:

“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.”

As Anatoly Malykhin prepares for this historic matchup, the world awaits to witness if he can conquer yet another division and make ONE Championship history.


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