When Reinier de Ridder and Anatoly Malykhin collide at ONE Fight Night 5 this weekend, two of the sport’s most dominant forces will be coming together.
Two-weight world champion de Ridder holds both the middleweight and light heavyweight titles, while Malykhin is the owner of the interim heavyweight crown – neither man has lost a fight in 27 outings between them.
As the saying goes, someone’s ‘0’ has got to go.
The battle is an intriguing battle of a BJJ star taking on a striker. Dutchman de Ridder has eight of his last eleven wins coming via submission, while Malykhin does have an impressive wrestling background, the last five of his wins have come from his hands, the last three of those in ONE.
One of the most anticipated differences however, is size. De Ridder’s last two fights have both come at middleweight, and he now faces the first defence of his light heavyweight title, against a man considered by some to be the best in the heavyweight division – and this includes de Ridder who is excited at the prospect of the fight.
“Malykhin is the real heavyweight champ as far as I’m concerned because Arjan Bhullar has been inactive for so long. So, yeah, it’s the right fight. Yes, it’s a cool fight to make,” said the 32-year-old.
Despite the wrestling background, de Ridder is confident of dictating the fight on his terms – and has no concern about being able to takedown his Russian opponent.
“He’s stocky, of course, he is a lot shorter than I am,” said the 16-0 fighter. “He will be a bit bulkier than I am, a bit heavier. But to be honest, he doesn’t bring anything special there in the wrestling department. We’ve seen in previous fights that he has a decent double. But I don’t really see him stopping anything else.
“Well, he’s dangerous, of course. We’ve seen in his previous fights, he knocks people out. He’s wild. He’s explosive. He’s an interesting opponent, but he doesn’t bring anything really special to the table.”
And, taking this in mind, he is predicting a short night’s work.
“I think I can get in his face and hit him with some good jabs and with some good kicks. Clinch him, take him down, I see me controlling him on the floor, hitting him with some elbows, hitting him with some knees. And I see myself choking him out at the end of the first.”
Not surprising, Malykhin doesn’t quite see things going that way, but is excited for the fight.
“I’m excited about challenges like that,” he said. “He’s a great fighter, a great athlete. I will be happy to share the Circle with him. I’m sure it will be the event of the year! Each fight is very important for me. I train as if it is the last one ever. I will try to display my best skills, my courage, and I will try to impress the audience. They expect a good show. I’m going to win. ”
The Russian acknowledges de Ridder’s excellent ground game, but thinks he can stifle the Dutchman and then go hunting the knockout.
“He has good jiu-jitsu, his transitions are on point. However, I have good wrestling, too. My base is freestyle wrestling, it’s going to be hard for him to take me down. I will go after a nice knockout because people want entertainment and people like stand-up fights.”
The 34-year-old Malykhin is confident of winning the title this weekend, and has the remaining years of his career already mapped out.
“After I beat De Ridder I want to rule the heavyweight and the light heavyweight divisions until I am 40, if I feel comfortable at this weight. Then I can give a beautiful last fight, thank all the fans, the team members, and Mr. Chatri for treating me and my family so well. Then I can hug everyone, shed a tear, take my gloves off, and put them in the centre of the ring and leave.”
We will see if the first part of this comes true this weekend.
ONE Fight Night 5: De Ridder vs. Malykhin takes place Saturday December 3 5am GST at the Mall Of Asia Arena, Manila. This is a night not to be missed so mark your calendars, download the ONE Super App, and go to watch.onefc.com now!