It seems inevitable that Amir Aliakbari and Anatoly Malykhin will rematch. The two were supposed to face off in the ring at ONE Fight Night 12 on Saturday but that plan was abandoned when they nearly came to blows.

Aliakbari had just scored his third stoppage win in succession. The two are former opponents but the time they have already shared together inside the ONE Championship cage has not exactly helped them form a close bond.

Malykhin finished Aliakbari in the first round at ONE: ‘Revolution’ in 2021. But it is not the things that the Russian have done which have caused the tension so much as the things he has said.

Aliakbari made his feelings very clear in a post fight interview,

“You talk too much about me. You backbite and you said many things about me. I want to tell you that next time, I will cut (out) your tongue.”

Lucky break

Malykhin won emphatically the first time they fought. He finished the Iranian with a barrage of punches midway through the opening round but Aliakbari believes he was lucky,

“As you know, my foundation wasn’t good in the previous fight. I think he was lucky based on the situation. But next time it won’t be like that. I am prepared. I know how I could handle him. Soon I will be the one who will have the belt.”

Aliakbari recently admitted that his preparation for the first fight against Malykhin had not been ideal. It seems this is the ‘situation’ which he is referring to.

Such is the animosity between the two men that Aliakbari believes Malykhin was playing psychological games with him in the build up to last Saturday’s fight with Dustin Joynson. But the Iranian believes he responded in the best possible way by securing the quick win in front of his former foe in Bangkok,

“When I was practicing and focusing on this fight, he was playing around and trying to say words that could destroy my spirit and my attitude, but he was not successful.”

No doubt

It is clear that Aliakbari’s confidence is high. Malykhin might be an undefeated heavyweight champion who has already beaten him once but he has no doubt that he will be able to avenge his loss to the Russian,

“I think with the kind of victory I got today, he’ll be the one who will be defeated next time.”

We will never know whether ONE Championship intended to announced a heavyweight title fight between Malykhin and Aliakbari last weekend. But it seems unlikely the two men would have been invited to face off in the ring if the fight wasn’t in the works.

There is some suggestion it could take place in Qatar towards the end of the year. But there is clearly bad blood between these two heavyweights and Aliakbari believes that this time around he will be able to make the champion eat his words.