Anatoly Malykhin’s ONE Championship debut will be broadcast on Friday. The Russian is undefeated with eight wins out of eight and already has another fight booked so expectations are understandably high.
Malykhin has been training at Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket and says he is in good shape,
“I feel amazing. Physically, I am very prepared and I can’t wait to enter the cage to show the world what I can do.”
Having spent time in Thailand the Russian wants to showcase his striking skills in Singapore,
“My base and my fundamentals are freestyle wrestling, but when I moved to Thailand and Tiger Muay Thai, I started to strengthen my striking,” he said.
He has a reputation for being a wrestler but Malykhin believes he is more well rounded than people realize,
“Honestly, I don’t know exactly why I have got this reputation. Everybody sees I am undefeated, that I beat people, but right now, I want to tell them to study me and let them know that I am coming out of the darkness.”
It is a point he would love to make at ONE: ‘Fists of Fury’ Part II when he faces BJJ black belt Alexandre Machado,
“In this fight with Machado, I want to show my striking skills as well as my wrestling.”
He has had plenty of time to assess his opponent and knows what to expect from the Brazilian,
“He has a couple of strengths. One is his way of working. He likes to be the first to attack. He likes to get the confidence, so you have to make sure not to give that confidence to him.”
The 33 year old knows he will have to be wary of Machado’s submission skills but it doesn’t sound like he is losing too much sleep,
“Secondly, he has his jiu-jitsu, but in my opinion, jiu-jitsu is nothing against freestyle wrestling. Plus, my jiu-jitsu is not bad because I am a European champion in grappling.”
Having won every single fight so far Malykhin is entitled to feel confident. The Russian is certain he will improve on that perfect professional record this week,
“With due respect, I feel I am one head higher than him in the fight. I am younger, faster, my striking is better, and my wrestling is better. I don’t see anything that he can overtake me on. I’m on a different level than him.”
He also believes he is mentally stronger than Machado,
“I have seen him break down in the critical battles. He doesn’t have the champion’s spirit. I have been in these championship fights, and I have the champion’s spirit. He is not at the championship level, he is somewhere in the middle. But I am.”
We will get a very good indication of Malykhin’s level when he faces Amir Aliakbari at ONE on TNT Part III next month. It represents a fast turnaround for the Russian and it is highly unusual for a heavyweight fighter to sign up for two bouts in quick succession like this.
The Russian did not have much to say about the fight but is adamant he will only face Aliakbari if the Iranian wins his bout at ONE: ‘Fists of Fury’ Part II,
“I have an agreement, but after fighting Alexandre, we will see what happens with the fight with Amir. If he wins, I really look forward to fighting him and showing two wrestlers in the cage. But if he doesn’t win I will not be interested and I will be looking for another (opponent).
The current heavyweight champion is Brandon Vera and Malykhin believes he would beat him,
“Vera is a very experienced guy. He likes to fight as a counter-attacking guy, so he is very good at striking, but he has never faced a good wrestler like me. I look forward to having a chance to fight with him. I will submit him with grappling techniques.”
He was prepared to be extremely specific about his ONE Championship debut. Malykhin intends to finish Machado in round two,
“I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time, and I look forward to finishing Alexandre in the second round.”