Anatoly Malykhin (ONE Championship)

Anatoly Malykhin Preparing to Be First Three-Division Champ

Anatoly Malykhin stands on the doorstep of history. At ONE 166: Qatar on Friday, Mar. 1, he will try to become ONE Championship’s first-ever three-division world champion when he challenges Reinier “The Dutch Knight” de Ridder for the ONE middleweight MMA title.

It will be a tall order for the light heavyweight and heavyweight MMA king to remain dangerous after dropping down to The Dutch Knight’s natural weight, but Malykhin is more calm and confident than ever before ahead of their heated rematch.

“My everyday life looks perfect! I wake up with my family by my side – my son, my wife. I know the reason for getting up every day, I am motivated and charged. And that’s how every week goes. I spend a lot of time with my family, but I also have have to spend a lot of time with my coach, Johnny. We do a lot of training. But basically, it’s just the same as my normal life – I love training, I love living, I love spending a lot of time with my family,” Malykhin told ONE.


Getting to the middleweight limit brings many challenges for a hulking behemoth like “Sladkiy.”

He has to keep his strength while losing mass, which are not things that are often conducive with each other. 

But Malykhin has added an new exercise to his training that focuses on this – and things seem to be going swimmingly for him.

“There was also one new thing – I swam a lot. Swimming is good for cardio, and it can be relaxing in general. It’s like meditation for me,” Malykhin admitted.

“I have no weaknesses now. I’m very good in all aspects of MMA: I’m a good striker and my wrestling is great, and my physical condition is at its peak.”

If the 36-year-old is speaking truthfully, De Ridder could be in for a repeat of their first encounter.

Malykhin dethroned the Dutchman in Dec. 2022 to claim the light heavyweight MMA gold. Ahead of their rematch the unbeaten powerhouse doesn’t think his foe has had enough time to improve enough to contend with everything he brings to the table.

“Yes, surely he has already drawn conclusions from our previous encounter, but what could he do since then? I don’t think he’s learned how to fight in the stand-up, or how to punch hard, or how to freestyle wrestle,” Malykhin stated.

“Sladkiy” has said that he doesn’t have a game plan for any of his fights. He simply steps into the Circle and competes, which is a privilege that comes from having a well-rounded arsenal.

Ahead of ONE 166, he is even putting himself on notice.

“Absolutely, I feel great this time around. Sometimes during shadow boxing or hitting bags, I get scared of myself. I’m very fast and very strong, I’m tough and very motivated,” Malykhin said.

Should Malykhin pick up the win, what comes next will be an even bigger question. As the champion of three divisions, he’ll have plenty of options.

But he isn’t concerned and will accept whatever opponent, in whatever division, that is presented to him.

“I don’t worry about that. I fight every opponent I can. There are matchmakers who make the cards. They know what’s best for ONE. They have more experience, they have a better view of the situation, they have more experience in this business than I do. And I’m ready to fight anybody, there’s no difference to me. I’m ready to fight any two of these guys at the same time on the same night,” Malykhin said.

ONE 166: Qatar airs live and free on Prime Video on Friday, Mar. 1. The action begins at 7:30 a.m. EST/4:30 a.m. PST.