In the end it wasnโ€™t clear what made Reinier de Ridder quit. It could have been the volume of punches Anatoly Malykhin was throwing or it could have been the sheer effort of constantly circling away from the Russian for the best part of three rounds.

Whatever it was, following aย  failed third round takedown de Ridder decided that he simply could not get up. It was perhaps not the way Malykhin would have liked to finish the ONE 166 main event but he walks away with the middleweight title in his growing collection.

Malykhin is also the heavyweight and light heavyweight champion and he won the latter by beating de Ridder in 2022. The Dutchman put on a better showing in Qatar, landing some jabs and low kicks and avoiding most of his opponentโ€™s power shots in the opening round.

Nothing left

De Ridder might have been hoping that Malykhin, who was making his middleweight debut, would run out of steam. It did not happen and the Russian continued to pursue him across the cage constantly.

At the end of the second round Malykhin landed some hard punches and de Ridder looked in trouble, but the bell came to his rescue. He was backpedaling frantically at the start of the third and ended up on his back after a failed takedown attempt.

Malykhin started to land ground and pound, but when de Ridder looked to latch onto an armbar he backed off and stood up. The referee gave the BJJ black belt plenty of time to get up but he clearly had nothing left.

The finish came at the 1:16 mark and Malykhin improves to 14-0 and picks up a $50,000 USD bonus. De Ridder drops to 16-2 and will not want to face this particular opponent again in a hurry.

Best of the rest

In the co-main event there was a big win for the returning Tang Kai (19-2).ย  It took him a few minutes to work out Thanh Le (14-4) but once he did the Chinese fighter was devastating.

He hurt the interim champion with left hooks and then connected with a huge right hand late in the third round. From there Kai was ruthless with ground and pound to secure a win that unifies the featherweight titles, making him the undisputed champion.

ONE 166, Qatar, March 1st
Anatoly Malykhin def. Reinier de Ridder via TKO (retirement) at 1:16 of R3
Tang Kai def. Thanh Le via TKO (Punches) at 4:48 of R3
MMA: Joshua Pacio def. Jarred Brooks via DQ (Illegal slam) at 0:56 of R1
Heavyweight: Amir Aliakbari def. Arjan Bhullar via DQ (Inactivity) at 4:50 of R3
Boxing: Mehdi Zatout def. Zuhayr Al-Qahtani via Decision (Unanimous)
Muay Thai: Vladimir Kuzmin def. Zafer Sayik via Decision (Unanimous)
Submission Grappling: Cleber Sousa def. Osamah Almarwai via Submission (Triangle armbar) at 5:31 of R1
Muay Thai: Ali Saldoev def. Zakaria El Jamari via KO (Punches) at 0:51 of R2
Muay Thai: Shinji Suzuki def. Han Zihao via Decision (Unanimous)
MMA: Keito Yamakita def. Jeremy Miado via Submission (Bulldog choke) at 4:04 of R1