Anatoly Malykhin assures to be in “great shape” ahead of middleweight title clash

By BJPENN.COM Staff - February 27, 2024

Anatoly Malykhin is poised to make history on Friday, March 1, as he vies for his third MMA World Title in ONE Championship.

Anatoly Malykhin

In the main event of ONE 166: Qatar, the Russian powerhouse challenges Reinier de Ridder for the ONE Middleweight MMA World Championship.

What makes this quest for gold even more intriguing at Lusail Sports Arena is his decision to move down a weight class. It’s a choice that has raised eyebrows among fans and experts alike.

However, the current ONE Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight MMA World Champion expresses optimism that the reward will be worth the risk. After all, he aims to bolster his legacy as the first simultaneous three-division titleholder under a major promotion.

“I’ve noticed only one change — I have become 20 years younger, and that’s for sure. I’ve never felt the way I feel now. I’m in great shape,” he said.

While skeptics argue that the shift to middleweight might diminish Malykhin’s signature knockout power, “Sladkiy” sees things differently.

“Absolutely, I feel great this time around. Sometimes during shadowboxing or hitting the bags, I get scared of myself,” he said.

“I’m very fast and very strong, I’m tough and very motivated. I want to make history, and that’s what pushes me to get up early in the morning and give my 100 percent.”

Anatoly Malykhin promises to finish Reinier de Ridder again

The backdrop of Anatoly Malykhin’s historic endeavor is a rematch of his December 2022 encounter against Reinier de Ridder.

In their first encounter, Malykhin showcased his dominance with a brutal knockout in the first round, taking the ONE Light Heavyweight MMA World Title from “The Dutch Knight.”

Despite the convincing victory nearly two years ago, he acknowledges the need for thorough preparation as they run it back in Qatar.

“This time, we focused on wrestling. I’m pretty sure De Ridder will try to wrestle with me. We worked a lot on freestyle wrestling, so it would be hard to take me down. We also worked on jiu-jitsu,” Malykhin said.

“But there was also one new thing — I swam a lot. Swimming is good for cardio, and it can be relaxing in general.”

Malykhin acknowledges that De Ridder may make adjustments. However, he remains unconvinced that his opponent has fully recovered from the beatdown in their first meeting.

“The scary thing for all my opponents is that I don’t have a plan for any fight at all. I just go out there and do what I love doing,” he said.

“When we get in the cage, we’ll see in the first scrap what De Ridder can do at 205 pounds [against me, and] I think it’s going to be the same as last time.”

This article appeared first on BJPENN.COM


Anatoly Malykhin ONE Championship