With Lessons Learned, Reinier De Ridder Feels Headstrong Ahead Of Anatoly Malykhin Showdown At ONE 166: Qatar

After putting together 16 consecutive victories in his professional career, ONE Middleweight MMA World Champion Reinier de Ridder felt untouchable. But his incredible run of form came to a screeching halt at the hands Anatoly Malykhin in late 2022. 

The duo met at ONE on Prime Video 5 in December of that year, with Malykhin dropping down a division to challenge De Ridder for the ONE Light Heavyweight MMA World Title. 

The global fanbase rightfully expected a barnburner from the two unbeaten stars, but what played out was a whitewash from “Sladkiy,” who knocked out the Dutchman in the first round.

Now, they are scheduled to run it back for De Ridder’s middleweight throne at ONE 166: Qatar on Friday, 1st March, and “The Dutch Knight” is ready to implement his new humbled fight approach to put a dent in Malykhin’s pristine slate. 

“If you win 16 in a row – and to be honest, not to seem arrogant, because I’m not trying to be arrogant – but it always went pretty easily in the fight, right? I never really got touched. I never really got hurt. I never really faced any real adversity. It was always like that. There was a guy in front of me, I’d walk towards him, take him down, and choke him out basically,” De Ridder said. 

“So in my head, it kind of got stuck that this is how fights go and I can do this to anybody in the world. I could until I couldn’t, and it clearly showed when I got knocked out viciously and I’ve been building back ever since.”

Reflecting on their first encounter, De Ridder says he was aware of how deadly Malykhin’s power could be, so he concerned himself greatly with counteracting it at every turn. This hindered his performance and left him open to other weapons the Russian had. 

The Combat Brothers standout has been careful not to fall into the same trap this time around, and he has adjusted his mindset in general in the 15 months since their first meeting.

“That’s not who I am normally, as you said, and it’s not the person I want to be, so it definitely showed in the fight, as well. I wasn’t moving like myself. I wasn’t as sharp as I normally am. If I look back at those takedowns, they were s***. If I look back at my striking, my movement, it’s like I’m looking at a shell of myself,” De Ridder analyzed. 

“And then another thing that’s very important to me is my mental game. So I’ve really looked inward a lot. Over the last year, I’ve really tried to make some changes in the way I approach the fight, and the way I view myself as a fighter. So yeah, let’s hope it all shows in a couple of weeks.

“The most important thing is not to get hit, of course, as we’ve seen, so the defense is a very critical part of it. And to be able to remain calm under pressure, to remain calm under these heavy shots that he’s going to be throwing. That’s the most important thing I’ve been working on.” 

Severe MMA Staff

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