Malykhin becomes historic Three-Division MMA World Champion in Doha

Malykhin becomes historic Three-Division MMA World Champion in Doha

QLNews
By QLNews

Russia’s Anatoly ‘Sladkiy’ Malykhin delivered on his promise of making MMA history when he defeated Reinier de Ridder on Friday to claim his ONE Middleweight MMA World Championship and become the first man in the sport to win world titles across three weight classes.

The blockbuster showdown, which marked ONE Championship’s landmark on-ground debut in Qatar, was a rematch of the pair’s December 2022 fight, where Malykhin knocked out the Dutchman to capture the light heavyweight belt.

With over a year of animosity built up between the two warriors, the tension in the packed Lusail Sports Arena was palpable.

Through the bout’s opening minutes, De Ridder showcased some of his new moves, even dropping ‘Sladkiy’ with a stunning jab.

But despite the Dutchman’s improved striking, Malykhin showed no fear in charging forward behind thunderous boxing combinations. The Russian consistently forced his foe against the Circle Wall, where he unloaded big blows to the body and head.

Malykhin continued to press forward in the second frame. ‘The Dutch Knight’ made some progress, but he lacked the horsepower needed to finish any takedowns.

By the start of the third stanza, De Ridder was showing signs of fatigue. Sensing blood, ‘Sladkiy’ landed several heavy body shots.

In a last-ditch effort to secure a submission, “De Ridder pulled Malykhin into his guard. But he quickly escaped and returned to his feet. Referee Herb Dean ordered De Ridder to stand up, but when he was unable to continue, it forced the referee to bring an official end to the contest at the 1:16 mark of round three.

The 36-year-old Russian sensation is now an unprecedented three-division MMA World Champion, adding the ONE Middleweight MMA World Title to a trophy case that includes the organization’s heavyweight and light heavyweight belts.

Malykhin also improved his unblemished career record to 14-0, and maintained his 100% finishing rate to further solidify his status as one of the greatest MMA fighters.

ONE Championship’s debut in Qatar had featured nine other martial arts bouts — from MMA to Muay Thai to submission grappling and even a boxing match thrown in for good measure.

Tang Kai left no doubt in the featherweight title unification bout against Thanh Le. The Chinese star took his time to figure out his American foe and then struck when the time was right.

After baiting Thanh and getting him to react, Tang dropped him with a crisp right hand. After some ground and pound, the match was called, and Tang earned another incredible finish to restart his reign.

Meanwhile, Joshua Pacio reclaimed the ONE Strawweight MMA World Championship. With Jarred Brooks on his back, Pacio threatened with a kimura. In defense of the submission, Brooks spiked Pacio on the mat, leading to a disqualification just 56 seconds into the match.

Mehdi Zatout made coming out of retirement look easy as he breezed through a three-round boxing bout against Zuhayr Al Qahtani to pick up a unanimous decision victory. Zatout was crisp and quick, not allowing his opponent any rhythm during their bout.

Cleber Sousa got back to winning ways over Osamah Almarwai in a high-stakes flyweight submission grappling bout. The Brazilian gained momentum while seeking early finishes and eventually found himself with an inverted triangle-armbar. Once he got the arm, Almarwai had nowhere to go and tapped out.

Ali Saldoev rallied in his Muay Thai match to score a second-round knockout. After a shot to the body lowered the hands of Zakaria El Jamari, Saldoev went to the head and connected flush to score the bout-ending blow.

The event started strong with Keito Yamakita taking care of business over Jeremy Miado. As the two hit the canvas, the Japanese talent grabbed Miado’s neck with a bulldog choke and squeezed.

Although ‘The Jaguar’ tried to escape, he eventually tapped out.

ONE 166: QATAR RESULTS

* Anatoly Malykhin defeated Reinier de Ridder by TKO at 1:16 of the third round

* Tang Kai defeated Thanh Le by TKO at 4:48 of the third round

* Joshua Pacio defeated Jarred Brooks by disqualification at 0:56 of the first round

* Amir Aliakbari defeated Arjan Bhullar by disqualification at 4:15 of the third round

* Mehdi Zatout defeated Zuhayr Al Qahtani by unanimous decision

* Vladimir Kuzmin defeated Zafer Sayik by unanimous decision

* Cleber Sousa defeated Osamah Almarwai via submission (armbar) at 5:31 of the first round

* Ali Saldoev defeated Zakaria El Jamari by KO at 0:51 of the second round

* Shinji Suzuki defeated Han Zi Hao by unanimous decision

* Keito Yamakita defeated Jeremy Miado via submission (bulldog choke) at 4:04 of the first round

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