Anatoly Malykhin burst onto the ONE Championship stage in a big way with crushing knockout wins over Amir Aliakbari and Kang Ji Won. He soon found himself at the top of the heavyweight division, where he took home the ONE interim heavyweight championship.
On Friday, Dec. 2, he has the chance to also rule the light heavyweight division when he takes on Reinier de Ridder in a battle of unbeaten superstars. As the one coming down in weight, Malykhin has been committed to doing everything right ahead of ONE on Prime Video 5.
“I feel good, I work with a nutritionist, and my wife helps me. I am rested and full. The weight is going down well, too. I don’t see any difference in my physicality, I feel comfortable. I just eat less. I don’t eat sweets, though I feel like it sometimes,” Malykhin said.
“We hired a dietitian, who monitors my diet and counts calories. I’m already down from 116 to 106 kilograms. I’ve eliminated all sweets, dairy products, bread, rolls. My ration per day is 2,500 calories, enough for me. I think I can easily make the weight.”
Many may see this matchup as a striker vs. grappler affair, due to de Ridder’s fantastic ground game and Malykhin’s power punches. The Russian’s base is in wrestling, but he has sent a clear message to de Ridder that he wants this to play out on the feet.
“Any wrestling is good for MMA, but especially freestyle wrestling. But I’m not going to wrestle, and neither is he, I think. Enough wrestling, de Ridder, we have to give an entertaining show, we have got to trade punches – everyone is tired of wrestling already. Let’s show some nice knockouts and have a stand-up fight,” the unbeaten Russian said.
If the reigning two-division world champion does try to grapple, Malykhin sees himself defending well and punishing the Dutchman en route to taking his strap. Much like his previous outings inside the Circle, Malykhin predicts a knockout finish.
“Yeah, I think I can do it again, and I’ll finish the fight before the second round. I’ll go out there, and I’ll hunt for his head. I’ll chase him, I’ll punch him, maybe he’ll try to impose his grappling on me, but I’ll break the grip. I’m going to hit him in the body, in the head. I’m going to hurt him. I don’t think he’ll go the whole distance,” he said.
And this is not a one-off for Malykhin. If he is victorious, the Russian plans on defending both the light heavyweight and heavyweight titles until his career wraps up. As he tells it, Malykhin will defend the gold until he his 40 and then walk away from active competition.
But he won’t be through with the sport or ONE itself. He wants to join the front office and help continue ONE’s growth as an executive.
“Not if, but after I beat de Ridder I want to rule the heavyweight and the light heavyweight divisions until I am 40, if I feel comfortable in this weight. Then I can give a beautiful last fight, thank all the fans, the team members, and Mr. Chatri for treating me and my family so well. Then I can hug everyone, shed a tear, take my gloves off, and put them in the center of the ring and leave. However, maybe if I learn English well enough, ONE can find a place for me because it has a very cool team and it is a great promotion,” said Malykhin.
ONE on Prime Video 5: De Ridder vs. Malykhin is free for all Amazon Prime subscribers in the U.S. and Canada. It will air live on Friday, Dec. 2, at 8 p.m. ET.
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