De Ridder vs. Malykhin II To Headline ONE 166
On Thursday, ONE Championship unveiled its main event for ONE 166: Qatar. A rematch between champions will cap off a massive night at the Lusail Sports Arena. ONE Middleweight World Champion Reinier De Ridder will try to redeem himself against ONE Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight World Champion Anatoly Malykhin.
The two first met at ONE Fight Night 5 in December 2022. Malykhin steamrolled De Ridder for a first-round knockout victory to become a two-division champion while he held the interim heavyweight crown. Six months later, he’d unify the ONE Heavyweight MMA World Championship to hold two undisputed titles simultaneously.
Malykhin has been sensational since arriving in ONE. At ONE 166, he has the chance to make history as the sport’s first-ever three-division king. But dropping to middleweight will pose significant challenges that could be too difficult to overcome.
That is what “The Dutch Knight” is hoping for as he wants to prove himself against the man who put the first loss on his record. De Ridder has not competed in MMA since that bout, only taking on Tye Ruotolo in a submission grappling bout at ONE Fight Night 10. His return will be more about redemption than it will be about defending the title.
A win for De Ridder would also strengthen his case as the best middleweight in the world. Defeating Malykhin would be a staggering accomplishment in its own right. However, “Sladkiy” has his eyes and heart set on doing something nobody else has ever done and to become known as the best pound-for-pound juggernaut in the sport today.
ONE 166 airs live on Friday, March 1. Also on the card, ONE Strawweight MMA World Champion Jarred Brooks battles Joshua Pacio in a high-stakes rematch. More bouts will be announced in the following weeks.