ONE Championship currently has two heavyweight champions. One of them is Anatoly Malykhin and the Russian is adamant that he is the one only fighter who belongs on the throne.
“I am the king of the heavyweight division,” he told ONEFC.com.
Malykhin was scheduled to face regular champion Arjan Bhullar in a unification bout. But the Canadian pulled out after sustaining an arm injury that required surgery.
So the Russian is looking at other potential opponents and is interested in a matchup with reigning light heavyweight and middleweight champion Reinier de Ridder,
“After I beat Arjan I can go a weight class below, as I am a small heavyweight, and take the belt.”
ONE Interim Heavyweight World Champion Anatoly Malykhin scored one of the WILDEST knockouts of the year so far 🤯#WeAreONE #ONEChampionship pic.twitter.com/LURrXjVp0t
— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) June 10, 2022
He has respect for the Dutchman’s grappling game but feels that de Ridder is too predictable,
“There has never been any disrespect from me when it comes to de Ridder, but he doesn’t surprise me with anything. I know his strengths, endurance and a strong ground game, but he just doesn’t understand my level of fighting and that’s his weak point. He thinks he can take me down but he won’t succeed.”
Malykhin watched de Ridder’s recent submission win over Vitaly Bigdash. He thinks his compatriot didn’t make the most of his opportunities,
“You can see he started the fight this way when de Ridder started pushing forward with his hands down, and then Vitaly rocked him with a punch. Vitaly knew he had to work De Ridder against the cage and try to turn him around. When Vitaly got his opponent’s neck, he might have thought he had a chance and, by the way, his chokes are very good. But we saw how it all ended. I think Vitaly can now do some homework and analyze his mistakes.”
ONE Interim Heavyweight World Champion Anatoly
Malykhin is ready to let the hands FLY 🥊 @AnatolyMalykhin#WeAreONE #ONEChampionship pic.twitter.com/nGRgtzhDjh
— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) July 7, 2022
But Malykhin is adamant he would not make the same mistakes that Bigdash made. The Russian can only see that fight ending one way,
“If I hit him the way Vitaly (did) he’s unlikely to remember anything about his jiu-jitsu skills. Maybe later after the knockout when his team tries to bring him back to life, he might remember that he is a black belt in jiu-jitsu. But overall, he is not a bad fighter.”
Malykhin tipped the scales at 239.75lbs ahead of his most recent fight. The light heavyweight limit is 225lbs so he would need to lose nearly 15lbs and wouldn’t be able to dehydrate himself excessively in order to do it under the ONE Championship rules.
It is an intriguing possibility but making the weight would be a real challenge for the 34 year old. He still has his sights set on Bhullar but a fight with de Ridder could turn out to be a viable alternative for the self proclaimed heavyweight king.