Anatoly Malykhin (12-0) delivered one of the most spectacular performances of 2022 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines, this past Friday.
The ONE interim heavyweight world champion knocked out former two-division king Reinier de Ridder to take his ONE light heavyweight world title in the main event of ONE on Prime Video 5, joining an elite group of fighters who have earned the coveted double-champ status.
"Sladkiy" dominated and finished de Ridder with hammerfists in under five minutes, doing what very few fans thought was possible.
Even ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong was so amazed that he rewarded the Russian powerhouse with a $100,000 performance bonus – double the amount that he normally hands out.
Reflecting on the victory, a thrilled Malykhin said:
"I just want to thank my opponent because I was getting ready for this fight really hard. He's one of the best fighters on the planet, so I want to thank him for making this fight happen.
"I'm going to put on a show every time I come to the cage – I'm ready for anyone. I'm going to take on everyone, and I'm going to win, so get ready for me."
Both Malykhin and de Ridder were undefeated heading into the battle. Up until then, nobody had been able to fend off "The Dutch Knight's" takedowns and jiu-jitsu skills.
In fact, de Ridder's impenetrable arsenal saw him walk into the ONE circle against the Russian with a clean 16-0 slate. However, Malykhin broke the Dutchman, handing him his first defeat while improving his own record to 12-0.
Many thought de Ridder would have more success closing the distance, but it was no surprise to "Sladkiy" that the bout played out so one-sided.
"I trained with one of the best fighters in the world who competed at freestyle wrestling in the Olympics. I believe nobody (in ONE) can take me down because that's what I'm training for every day."
Malykhin wants even more gold in the future
After debuting in ONE's light heavyweight ranks with great success, Malykhin has revealed that he might go one division further.
"Sladkiy" thinks he can drop all the way down to middleweight and snatch that belt, which de Ridder also owns.
"De Ridder said that he dreamed of having three belts. His dream didn't happen, so I'm here to make my dream happen and have three or four belts. As I said earlier, I'm coming for all the belts, so everybody should watch out and be careful!"
However, there's still unfinished business for Malykhin at heavyweight. He needs to unify the belts with ONE heavyweight world champion Arjan Bhullar, along with potential matchups against other contenders.
Malykhin was quick to brush off Bhullar, but he feels like Brazilian jiu-jitsu legend Marcus "Buchecha" Almeida could be a serious threat in the future.
"(Bhullar is) just weak. He doesn't deserve to be in ONE Championship. (He pulls out) every single time.
"I really like 'Buchecha' as a person, so I wouldn't really want to fight him, honestly, but if he called me out first, of course I will accept the fight.
"Him and de Ridder can't compare because 'Buchecha' is so much better at jiu-jitsu. So if I have to fight him, I will have improve my jiu-jitsu skills so I don't go to sleep."
This story first published at ONEFC.com.