ONE 166 Main Event Breakdown

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March is one of the most exciting months on the sports calendar. We’re just a few weeks out from the NCAA Tournament (known by its alliterative nickname, March Madness) taking over the American sports landscape and causing people all over the United States to fake being sick with the flu just so they can stay home and watch 16 games a day on a Thursday and Friday across four networks.

March is also when Major League Baseball begins its new season on the same day as the first half of the Sweet Sixteen in the tournament. While those traditions are fine and dandy, Friday marks the start of another month of what we’re all here for: Competitive violence.

The month of March in MMA gets started on its first morning, a day when combat promotion ONE Championship heads to Qatar for the first time ever. Lusail Sports Arena is the host venue for ONE 166. Live coverage kicks off at 7:30 am ET/ 4:30 am PT.

If you’re inside the United States and Canada, you’ll have a special treat. Amazon Prime Video, the North American rightsholder to ONE Fight Night events,  will stream ONE 166 at no additional cost to Prime subscribers on Friday.

Middleweight Battle in ONE 166 Main Event Friday Morning

A common thread with championship fights at the top of the order in ONE 166 is rematches. Your main event of the evening is no exception. Action at middleweight (205 lbs.) will be the focus of the headliner.

Current ONE Middleweight Champion Reinier de Ridder (16-1 MMA, 7-1 ONE Championship) clashes with undefeated challenger and incumbent ONE Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight Champion Anatoly Malykhin (13-0 MMA, 5-0 ONE Championship.) The ONE 166 main event will be an advertised maximum of five rounds at five minutes per round to close the show.

The Series So Far

Back on Dec. 3, 2022, Malykhin scored a first-round knockout of de Ridder at light heavyweight (225 lbs.) to claim the first of his two divisional championships. How will the rematch at middleweight play out?

ONE 166 Main Event Fighter Comparison and Betting Odds

Heading into the ONE 166 main event on Friday, Reinier de Ridder stands as the taller man at 6-foot-4, compared to Anatoly Malykhin’s frame of six feet even. The double champ owns a 79.1-inch reach, with no such information accessible for the middleweight champ at press time.

Presently, the oddsmakers have Anatoly Malykhin installed as a -650 favorite on the money line, with Reinier de Ridder countering as a +420 underdog. If you plan on betting on this or any other fight happening this weekend, please wager responsibly.

Will de Ridder Get Revenge?

Reinier de Ridder has posted a record of 4-1 in his last five MMA fights. Prior to the original bout with Malykhin in December of 2022, he scored a first-round submission (inverted triangle choke) of Vitaly Bigdash (12-3 MMA, 5-3 ONE Championship) during ONE 159 the previous July.

Recently, he was interviewed by Morning Kombat’s Brian Campbell about various topics, including his attitude in the first fight.

“Yeah, definitely. To be honest, I didn’t really put too much respect on him at all,” de Ridder said. “I just went in, it’s another guy who strikes hard. It’s not a guy with a strong right hand. I’ve faced a lot of those guys and before, I got a little bit too cocky, maybe a little bit too arrogant going into this fight last time and I paid for it.”

Will Reinier de Ridder be able to correct what went wrong for him that December night in the ONE 166 main event? Wake up early on Friday and find out.

Anatoly Malykhin Approaching Exclusive Company

In the other corner, Anatoly Malykhin has yet to lose thus far in his career as an MMA fighter. Counting amateur contests, he’s won 15 fights in a row. More impressively, he’s won seven of his 13 professional fights by way of knockout, including his most recent fight against Arjan Bhullar (11-2 MMA, 2-1 ONE Championship) in the third round last June.

A victory on Friday in the ONE 166 main event would net him his third championship in as many weight classes simultaneously. While double champs have been crowned before in promotions across the world, there’s never been a simultaneous three-division champion.

History awaits Anatoly Malykhin. All that’s left for him to do is win that third belt.

Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction

Stylistically, the ONE 166 main event on Friday looks to favor Reinier de Ridder, a black belt in both judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, compared to Anatoly Malykhin’s Master of Sport in Freestyle Wrestling.

de Ridder Slick With Subs

Given Reinier de Ridder’s wrestling background, it stands to reason that he’ll try to take this fight to the mat and lock up a submission. Fan Rong found this out the hard way in January of 2019.

Upon landing a takedown in round one, de Ridder moved in on Fan and kept him on the canvas, grappling with him until he sunk in a D’arce choke, forcing him to go to sleep in under two minutes.

If Reinier de Ridder can take Anatoly Malykhin down just once, the ONE 166 main event will be over before you sit down to eat that breakfast sandwich of yours.

Anatoly Malykhin Can Punch His Way to History

In the other corner, Anatoly Malykhin is an impressive striker. There’s a reason why he’s knocked out his last seven straight opponents, but he can go deep into a fight if needed. Just look at the tape of his fight against Arjan Bhullar from June of last year.

Malykhin teed off with relentless combinations, and at one point, it looked like he’d finish Bhullar standing up. Upon a restart, Bhullar committed a foul, resulting in a yellow card (in ONE, fighters are issued yellow and red cards depending upon the severity of fouls committed.)

After the booking, the fight was reset to the mat, with Malykhin continuing to rain down punches until the ref intervened. If Anatoly Malykhin comes out landing punches in bunches, history is his.

Final Thoughts

The ONE 166 main event is worth getting up early for. If you sleep in, you could miss history.

Prediction: Anatoly Malykhin by First-Round Knockout. 

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Drew Zuhosky has been writing about combat sports since May of 2018, coming to MMASucka after stints at Overtime Heroics and Armchair All-Americans. A graduate of Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, Drew is a charter member of the Youngstown Press Club. Prior to beginning his professional career, Drew was a sportswriter for YSU's student-run newspaper, The Jambar, where he supplied Press Box Perspective columns every week.

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