Thanh Le (L) (ONE Championship)

Five Reasons to Watch ONE 166: Qatar

ONE Championship is all set for its debut in the Middle East on Friday, Mar. 1, and it’s bringing a loaded card to ONE 166: Qatar

Three championship rematches headline the momentous event, but seven additional bouts are also set to light up the Lusail Sports Arena in Qatar with martial arts goodness. 

With such an abundance of enthralling action, it’s difficult to grasp why any combat sports fan would miss Friday’s event. But just in case you need a further push, here are five key reasons to tune in to ONE 166. 


Standing On The Doorstep Of History 

Anatoly Malykhin has already become a two-division ONE champion, with the heavyweight and light heavyweight MMA straps sitting comfortably on his shoulders. But he’ll be looking to make history against an old foe this weekend. 

Malykhin claimed his first undisputed title against Reinier de Ridder in their clash in Dec. 2022, and, if he defeats him again in Qatar, he’ll take the Dutchman’s middleweight MMA throne and become the first-ever three-division ONE world champion.  

But de Ridder will not go quietly this time. 

“The Dutch Knight” has been preparing for another shot at Malykhin since that loss, and he believes he has addressed the holes that led to him being bulldozed by the undefeated Russian. 

He’ll have a lot to prove, but Malykhin will also be dealing with another substantial cut in weight, which could take a toll on the Russian’s cardio. 

One way or the other, the ONE 166 main event will deliver a result that will be remarkable. Either “Sladkiy” claims history, or De Ridder puts the first loss on his record. Regardless, this one isn’t to be missed. 

Featherweight Unification 

Tang Kai dethroned Thanh Le from the top of the featherweight MMA division after five furious rounds in their first meeting in Aug. 2022.  

Admittedly, the rematch Le coveted didn’t come as quickly as he would’ve liked, given the Chinese champion has been sidelined with injury since, but that time allowed him to continue sharpening his skills and claim the interim crown last October. 

Now, he gets a chance to run it back with Tang, and their second meeting poses even more questions than the first. 

After being out for so long and having to focus on rehab, it will be interesting to see how Tang performs. And with striking star Le winning his last bout by submission, many have been wondering if he’ll showcase his newfound grappling prowess once again. 

These two explosive athletes will offer up, arguably, the best matchup on the docket, and the unknowns make it tantalizing. So strap in for this ONE featherweight MMA title unification firefight. 

Heavyweight Contenders Collide 

Amir Aliakbari and Arjan Bhullar have seemed destined to square off against each other for some time, and, at one time, it was believed their clash would be for the ONE heavyweight MMA championship.  

That will not be the case this Friday, but fans can expect just as many fireworks as a world-title tilt. 

Bhullar hasn’t competed since losing his heavyweight title unification match with Malykhin last June, so he’ll be out to impress in the hopes of setting up a possible rematch. But that will be difficult against a proven finisher in Aliakbari. 

The Iranian superstar is on a run of three knockouts in a row in ONE, and his last loss came at the hands of Malykhin. He has been gunning for a second shot at the Russian for over two years now, and he could get it if he puts Bhullar down this weekend. 

Whatever you do, don’t miss this heavyweight showdown. 

Strawweight Sleeper 

The second meeting between Jarred Brooks and Joshua Pacio is guaranteed to be exciting, as it will determine who carries the division forward in 2024. However, another strawweight MMA bout could be the true sleeper on the card. 

In the opening battle of the evening, Keito Yamakita will meet Jeremy Miado, and their stylistic clash should get ONE 166 rolling with a hot start. 

Miado was flirting with title contention up to recently, but hard times have come for the Filipino star. Similarly, Yamakita was surging until he lost by decision to Bokang Masunyane at ONE 165 this past January. 

A win will put either man back into the thick of the hunt. And with Brooks and Pacio battling it out for the World Title, this match will be the perfect way for these two to stake a claim as a true title threat. 

Grappling Is A Darkhorse 

Mikey Musumeci casts a large shadow over the flyweight submission grappling division in ONE Championship. However, a meeting of genuine divisional contenders will go down at ONE 166. 

Osamah Almarwai and Cleber Sousa is a world-class grappling match worthy of attention, and it could be a dark horse for Fight of the Night. 

Both men have their debuts done and dusted in ONE, so their aggression should be ramped up when they step in for their second outings on the global stage. 

Motivation to earn a rematch with Musumeci will be high here, as Almarwai and Sousa have each fallen to the American. But more importantly, they will be trying to make a statement for themselves in Qatar.  

These two world champion grapplers are still at the top of the game, so tune in for this curtainraiser to see the sport showcased in the best way possible. 

ONE 166 airs live on Friday, Mar. 1, from the Lusail Sports Arena in Qatar. The action begins at 7:30 a.m. EST/4:30 a.m. PST on Prime Video.