Reinier de Ridder vs. Anatoly Malykhin II for middleweight gold headlines ONE 166: Qatar

Reinier de Ridder and Anatoly Malykhin will renew their rivalry at ONE 166. [Image: ONE Championship]
Reinier de Ridder and Anatoly Malykhin will renew their rivalry at ONE 166. [Image: ONE Championship]

Anatoly Malykhin will move one step closer to becoming MMA’s first three-division world champion when he runs it back against Reinier de Ridder for middleweight MMA supremacy on March 1.

The organization broke the news on its official website earlier today, revealing that the five-round war would serve as the main event of ONE 166: Qatar – ONE Championship’s first foray in the country.

‘Sladkiy’ was steadfast in his mission to taste ONE gold since inking a deal with the world’s largest martial arts organization in early 2021.

He picked up five knockouts from as many matches, including a trio of wins in world title matchups against Kirill Grishenko, De Ridder, and Arjan Bhullar to become the ONE light heavyweight and heavyweight world champion.

While he had been ready to defend his 26 pounds of gold against any opposition in the two heaviest weight classes, Anatoly Malykhin was persistent in dropping down to grab De Ridder’s middleweight crown.

His dream could turn into reality when he squares off against the middleweight kingpin inside the Lusail Sports Arena in Q1 of 2024.

After shredding ‘The Dutch Knight’s armor to bits in their first encounter at ONE on Prime Video 5 in December 2022, the Russian will fancy his chances to do just the same in about 60 days.

However, De Ridder has been consistently working on upgrading his skill set for his eventual return, and he promises to bring his best version ever against Anatoly Malykhin in the main event of ONE 166: Qatar.

Confirmed bouts for ONE 166 before De Ridder-Anatoly Malykhin II takes off

Anatoly Malykhin and De Ridder’s middleweight contest is one of two world title fights confirmed for ONE’s first mega event in Qatar.

Before the two renew their rivalry, ONE strawweight world champion Jarred Brooks puts his prized possession on the line against former divisional king and top-ranked contender Joshua Pacio.

‘The Monkey God’ swapped roles with the Filipino warrior in the main event of ONE 164 in December last year, taking home a well-deserved unanimous decision after five intense rounds.

Apart from the pair of eagerly anticipated rematches, Arjan Bhullar and Amir Aliakbari will have one eye on Anatoly Malykhin’s 265-pound crown when they collide in a three-round heavyweight tilt.

Lastly, Osamah Almarwai and Cleber Sousa meet in a flyweight submission grappling encounter.

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