“Something No One Has Ever Done Before” – Anatoly Malykhin Motivated to Make History at ONE 166: Qatar

Anatoly Malykhin is working towards a goal that no ONE Championship athlete has achieved, and he’s full of confidence he can pull it off.

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It was recently announced that “Sladkiy” is set to challenge Reinier de Ridder for the ONE Middleweight MMA World Championship at ONE 166: Qatar on March 1 – in a rematch many fans have hoped they would see.

Anatoly Malykhin ready to move down a weight class


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Tasked with the honor of headlining ONE’s debut event in the Middle East, the hulking Russian will move down another weight class in the hopes of becoming the promotion’s first three-division World Champion. 

The pair first met as undefeated fighters at ONE on Prime Video 5 in December 2022. At that time, De Ridder held both the middleweight and the light heavyweight MMA crowns and had designs on moving up to heavyweight to challenge the World Title there.

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However, Malykhin brought a crushing end to that dream when he finished the Dutchman in the first round to snatch his light heavyweight strap. 

The Golden Team representative then went on to finish heavyweight MMA king Arjan Bhullar six months later in their unification bout at ONE Friday Fights 22 to become an undisputed two-division titleholder in the world’s largest martial arts organization.

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Now that he has joined rare company, “Sladkiy” wants to separate himself from the pack further by claiming a third World Title. 

“I agreed to this challenge because it’s something no one has ever done before me,” Malykhin told ONE in an interview. 

Will the Champion be able to silence his critics?

The 35-year-old has been dominant in his run in the heavyweight ranks, but plenty of fans doubted his ability to replicate his form in a lighter weight class against a fighter of De Ridder’s caliber. 

Malykhin made it very clear that his power didn’t dissipate with the pounds, however, and he’ll be looking to prove it further when he drops down again to compete for middleweight glory on March 1. 


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“The Dutch Knight” will have revenge on his mind, and his dominance in the division is undeniable. But Malykhin is confident that he has seen everything his upcoming foe has to offer, and he promises to deliver another show-stopping performance when they meet again. 

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“De Ridder won’t have any advantage,” he said.


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“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.” 

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