De Ridder, Malykhin Headline Historic One Championship Event In Lusail


(MENAFN- The Peninsula) Chinthana Wasala | The Peninsula

Doha, Qatar: The martial arts world will be buzzing with excitement when Qatar hosts the ONE 166: Qatar – Presented by Visit Qatar at the Lusail Sports Arena this Friday, showcasing the best of the globe's combat sport.

The One Championship taking place for the first time in Qatar will feature five fights across Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Muay Thai, kickboxing, and submission grappling, leading up to the day's showpiece event, a rematch between the undefeated ONE Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight MMA World Champion Anatoly Malykhin and the 'Dutch Knight' Reinier de Ridder for the ONE Middleweight MMA World Title.

A co-main event will feature another rematch, between Thanh Le who seeks redemption against China's Tang Kai as they lock horns on Friday. In their first encounter at ONE 160, Tang defeated the Vietnamese-American to win the ONE Featherweight MMA World Title.

Another highlight of the historic fight card includes a highly anticipated rematch featuring a bout for MMA gold when ONE Strawweight MMA World Champion Jarred Brooks of the US defends his title against former World Champion Joshua Pacio of the Philippines.

Qatar line-up will also feature a clash of heavyweight contenders as Iranian star Amir Aliakbari - who is riding a three-fight, three-knockout winning streak - takes on former ONE heavyweight champion Arjan Bhullar, India's first-ever global MMA title winner. The event will also play host to a battle between former ONE Flyweight Submission Grappling World Title challengers as Yemeni-Saudi BJJ black belt Osamah Almarwai and former IBJJF World Champion Cleber Sousa of Brazil.

Commenting on the blockbuster event's arrival in Doha, the global sports capital, One Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong highlighted his bond with Qatar.

“In the last several years I've been to Qatar so many times. I have so many incredible friends and Qatar truly has become one of my favourite countries in the entire world. The Qatari history, the culture, tradition, and the kindness of the people is truly remarkable. I've had the good portion of travelling all over the Middle East and all over the world with One Championship, and I can't speak highly enough of Qatar,” Sityodtong said during the official press conference held at the Mondrian Doha Hotel yesterday.

“I also want to first thank Qatar Tourism Chairman His Excellency Saad bin Ali bin Saad Al Kharji for supporting the event and for being our partner. Also Sheikh Ali bin Abdullah bin Khalifa Al Thani (CEO of Media City Qatar) and of course Ooredoo, a good dear friend of ours. Without these incredible partners, we would not be here today to showcase the greatest martial arts on the planet here in Qatar,” Sityodtong said.

“For me, Qatar represents the very best in the world and everything they do. That's what's incredible about this incredible country with an extraordinary history of being a small fishing village to be transformed into a world-class unbelievable country that has hosted the World Cup. And that's why, on so many levels, for me, Qatar represents the very best in the world. Just like One Championship represents the very best in the world,” Sityodtong said.

Commenting on the main event of the fight night, Sityodtong hinted it would be a dream comes true for martial arts fans worldwide.

“I want to say the main event, just for me as a fight fan and as a lifelong martial artist, is just unbelievable. Qataris, Middle East, everyone in the world will be watching from 190 countries live,” Sityidtong said.

The clash between Malykhin and De Ridder is a rematch of their December 2022 clash, where the Russian knocked out the latter in devastating fashion to capture the light heavyweight MMA crown.

“I believe he's the best middleweight on the planet,” Sityodtong said of De Ridder.

“And I have to say, he's also one of the brave warriors. Because when he and Anatoliy fought in the last fight for the light heavyweight world title, he was knocked out pretty badly and most fighters would not say I want to fight back again and I want to come back again and fight the same person. But that's Anatoly for you.”

“Meanwhile, Malykhin, a former Russian national wrestling champion, two-division world champion, the heavyweight champion of the world with a 13 and 0 record undefeated and with all finishes and a 90% first-round finish rate, makes him honestly the best heavyweight on the planet,” Sityodtong added.

“I don't believe the fight's gonna go the distance. I believe either Anatoly is going to make a mistake and get submitted by Ridder or Anatoly will win by KO. It'll be a repeat of their favorite ways of fighting and finishing fights,” the One Chairman predicted.

The One Championship 166 event will be broadcast exclusively on beIN Sports in the MENA region and will also be streamed on ONEFC in many regions around the world, and for the first time, the Prime Video service will feature the event for its subscribers in the United States and Canada.

Tickets for the“ONE: 166 Qatar” event are still available for purchase through Virgin Megastore and Q-Tickets.

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