Anatoly Malykhin has seen unprecedented heights in his career, yet the Russian knockout machine admitted he never dreamt that he would reach this point.
‘Sladkiy’ is now considered one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world after he captured the ONE undisputed heavyweight world title in his unification bout against Arjan Bhullar at ONE Friday Fights 22.
While he’s in rarified air, Malykhin said in a recent Instagram Live video that he never saw himself reaching this kind of success.
The ONE light heavyweight and heavyweight world champion said:
"Guys, where do I come from? I'm just a regular scrapper from Kemerovo. I swear, I was running around the neighborhood, and I didn't know what MMA was. Can you imagine? I just made it this far.”
Malykhin was a decorated wrestler in his home country of Russia, and he started his MMA career when he was 28 years old. Though he started a bit later in the sport, the now-35-year-old has skyrocketed at an unprecedented pace.
He holds a perfect 13-0 record, with all 13 of his wins coming by way of knockout or submission. In 2021, Malykhin arrived at ONE Championship, instantly becoming a fan favorite.
Malykhin quickly tore through ONE’s heavyweight landscape and earned interim gold when he flatlined Kirill Grishenko in February 2022.
While waiting for Bhullar to recover from injuries and settle his contractual issues, Malykhin decided to drop down a weight class and challenged Reinier de Ridder for the ONE light heavyweight world title.
Despite going down a division, Malykhin looked as sharp as ever and bludgeoned de Ridder to capture the light heavyweight throne via first-round KO in December 2022.
Malykhin then settled his rivalry with Bhullar this past week at ONE Friday Fights 22. Leaving nothing to chance, Malykhin finished Bhullar in the third round and added the ONE undisputed heavyweight world title to his collection.