Anatoly Malykhin challenges for the middleweight title at ONE 166. He is facing Reinier de Ridder for the second time and expects the Dutchman to adopt a completely different strategy.

Malykhin thinks that his opponent will have learned from his last defeat. He stopped de Ridder in the second round at ONE Fight Night 5 and the Russian says it doesn’t matter what adjustments his opponent makes.

Malykhin says it is impossible to prepare for him because even he has no idea what he is going to do until he does it

“De Ridder has realized how dangerous I am. Together with his team, he has come up with some new plan. But the scary thing for all my opponents is that I don’t have a plan for any fight at all. I just go out there and do what I love doing and enjoy it.”


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New focus

Malykhin already holds the heavyweight and light heavyweight titles and is so confident of winning the middleweight belt that he has been posing with all three straps wrapped around his waist. Having totally outboxed de Ridder last time out he expects his opponent to try and make it more of a wrestling match,

“This time, we focused on wrestling. I’m pretty sure de Ridder will try to wrestle with me. We worked a lot on freestyle wrestling, so it would be hard to take me down, and we also worked on jiu-jitsu.”


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New element

He also added a new element to his training regime. Malykhin, who is based at Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket, spent a lot of time in the water while preparing for Friday’s fight,

“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.”

While he expects de Ridder to try and wrestle Malykhin would love to show off the boxing skills which won him the first fight,

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


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No difficulty

De Ridder has had plenty of time to adjust his strategy after the first fight. But Malykhin thinks there is nothing the Dutchman can do to bridge the gulf between them

“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 appeared to have no difficulty making weight. He looked confident and comfortable when stepping on the scale and expects the rematch to play out exactly like the first fight,

“When we get in the cage with De Ridder, we’ll see right away what De Ridder can do at middleweight. I think it’s going to be the same as last time.”