ONE 166: Anatoly Malykhin Becomes First Triple-Champ in MMA History

Anatoly Malykhin, ONE 166
Anatoly Malykhin, ONE 166 weigh-in Credit: ONE Championship

ONE double champion Anatoly Malykhin continued hunting middleweight champion Renier de Ridder at ONE 166 after stopping him to win the light-heavyweight belt last year.

Holland’s submission sensation de Ridder had been a two-division champion in his own right before Russia’s Malykhin moved down from heavyweight to fight him, taking his belt, and his undefeated record, via first-round knockout in a dominant performance. He then unified the heavyweight title by stopping Arjan Bhullar, to improve to 13-0.

RDR welcomed Malykhin to his weight and so would be the smaller man once again. It was up to him to change the flow of the fight this time, enforce his grappling on the Russian powerhouse, and stop Anatoly from becoming a three-weight champion. He gave his best effort, but in the end Malykhin was just too much for him.

Malykhin hurt RDR with an uppercut early but de Ridder clinched up to stifle him. However, Anatoly reversed it and used dirty boxing on the Dutchman. Renier did not have much of an answer in the striking at first, but a leg kick took out Malykhin’s lead leg for a moment, two minutes in. Malykhin continued his assault, while defending in the clinch each time when RDR tried to entangle him there. His overpursuit on his big punches led to him often falling into that clinch, but he still damaged de Ridder on the way in. Anatoly’s body work was also effective. RDR landed a sneaky lead head kick late in the first round, but Malykhin ate it, kept walking him down, and won the round.

Malykhin got right back to business in the second, damaging de Ridder early and defending a single-leg takedown attempt. RDR rolled to his back to play guard but the HW champ welcomed him back to his feet. De Ridder had stated that he wanted to drag Malykhin into deep waters, but the consistent body work of Anatoly made Reneir appear to be the more tired party as he got walked down. The flow of the fight did not change in the rest of the round; de Ridder’s face was a mess by the end of ten minutes, with his left eye nearly closed.

The double champ did not even appear tired at all when the third round started. He kept walking down the defending champion and stopping all his takedown attempts. One poor single leg attempt allowed Malykhin a chance for ground and pound, including a knee to the head. De Ridder tried and failed a hail Mary triangle choke, but Anatoly got out of it and told RDR to stand back up. Herb Dean insisted that if Reneir did not stand back up then he would stop the fight; it seemed to take an eternity for him to just get to his knees, where he stayed, forcing Herb Dean to stop the fight.

It was a struggle to wrap three huge, golden belts around even a man as big as Anatoly Malykhin, but in the end they did it so he could show off his historic achievement as the first three-weight MMA champion in a major promotion in the history of the sport. He declared his joy to the world, his appreciation for ONE Championship, and celebrated with his wife in his interview. Then Malykhin embraced Reneir de Ridder and told the world to respect him as a warrior, an elite fighter, and a family man in a display of good sportsmanship. It was a truly eclectic post-fight interview at ONE 166, but one fitting of his incredible achievement, as was the $50,000 bonus he received from the promotion.

Official Result: Anatoly Malykhin def. Reinier de Ridder (c) by TKO, Round 3, 1:16