ONE 166

Date and location

: March 1, Lusail (Qatar).

Significant fights

Anatoly Malykhin (c)

- Rainier de Ridder (c) (middleweight title).

On the first day of spring, an extremely interesting fight in mixed martial arts will take place.

ONE FC champion in two divisions Anatoly Malykhin will try to win the title in another, middle category.

On paper, Rainier de Ridder, with whom their paths crossed in December 2022, will try to prevent him from carrying out his plans.

Then the Russian did not let the Dutchman last a round and took the 102.1 kg trophy from him.

But in reality, he will have to fight not only with his opponent, but also with his own body.

Now the main question is whether Malykhin will be able to withstand the hardest weight loss and approach the tournament in good physical shape (we are hardly talking about ideal).

In his last fight with Arjan Bhullar, he weighed about 108 kg, and this time he needs to meet the limit of 93 kg.

And for a natural heavyweight, this seems an incredibly difficult task.

True, manager Alexander Skaredin believes in his client’s ability to successfully pass these tests and appear extremely prepared in the cage.

And if everything goes well, Anatoly will leave Lusail as the first-ever ONE champion in three divisions.



Night 238

Date and location

: March 2, Las Vegas (USA).

Significant fights

: Jairzinho Rozenstrike - Shamil Gaziev, Muhammad Mokaev - Alex Perez,

Umar Nurmagomedov

- Bekzat Almakhan.

Just a day later, the first UFC tournament in March will take place, where three Russians will perform.

True, at the moment only one of them represents the country.

We are talking about Umar Nurmagomedov, who is preparing to fight for the first time since January 2023.

He then crushed Raoni Barcelos and earned the right to fight former interim title challenger Corey Sandhagen, but withdrew due to a shoulder injury.

And when he recovered from the damage, he encountered serious problems.

As his manager Ali Abdel-Aziz has repeatedly admitted, he simply could not find an opponent for him, because everyone without exception refused to share the octagon with the undefeated Dagestani.

As a result, the debutant of the largest promotion on the planet Bekzat Almahan turned out to be the bravest.

The Kazakhstani became famous in the Octagon and UAE Warriors leagues, where he won his last six victories, but over far from the strongest opponents.

And it’s hard to imagine how he will be able to compete with Nurmagomedov.

True, this success will only allow Umar himself to improve his perfect record.

In turn, a much more serious test awaits Muhammad Mokaev.

He will clash with number seven in the flyweight division, Alex Perez, and if he wins, he will become a full participant in the race for the trophy, as his unbeaten streak in the 56.7 kg category will reach six fights.

And although the Mexican should not be written off, it is also impossible to call him a favorite, because out of the last 12 battles, ten were canceled at once, and in the remaining two he lost by suffocation.

True, to the former champions - Deiveson Figueredo and Alexander Pantoje.

It will not be easy for Shamil Gaziev, who crushed Martin Budai in his debut fight.

But if the Slovakian did not belong to the main stars of the heavy category, then Jairzinho Rozenstruik clearly deserves such a status.

Yes, now he is no longer among the contenders for the belt and occupies only 12th place in the ranking, but he can fray your nerves.

The only question is whether the Bahraini athlete will be able to defend himself from the fight if his opponent decides to resort to it.

After all, the Surinamese is very strong both in the stand and on the ground.

ACA 172

Date and place

: March 9, Moscow (Russia).

Significant fights

: Magomed Ismailov - Anatoly Tokov, Abubakar Vagaev - Edil Esengulov (Welterweight Grand Prix), Kurban Taigibov - Bibert Tumenov (Featherweight Grand Prix), Mehdi Baidulaev - Maharbek Karginov (Bantamweight Grand Prix) , Timur Valiev - Alexander Podlesny.

The first half of March will be super-saturated by the large-scale ACA show, the enormous interest in which is primarily due to the duel between middleweight stars.

In May 2013, Magomed Ismailov fell for a kimura and lost to Anatoly Tokov in just three minutes, suffering the first defeat in his career.

And only 11 years later he got a chance to get revenge.

This was facilitated by the uncertainty with the future opponent in the joint promotion of PFL and Bellator, as well as a long downtime.

The last time Fedor Emelianenko’s student entered the cage was in February 2023, when he unsuccessfully tried to take the belt from Johnny Eblin.

And I was very glad to finally break the pause.

The only question is whether Ismailov will be able to quickly adapt and approach the mixed martial arts battle in ideal shape.

After all, he fought three of the last four fights according to boxing rules and could well have lost his condition.

At the same time, it will be interesting to evaluate Tokov’s progress in wrestling, because quite recently he began training at the Universal Fighters gym in Dagestan.

And if this helps him defend against Magomed’s takedowns, then the return fight may not be the most difficult test for him.

However, the list of interesting ACA 172 fights does not end there.

For the first time since 2019, Timur Valiev, who has never been able to establish himself in the UFC, will perform in Russia.

There he won two out of four fights and was fired, and subsequently was unable to fight his way back through The Ultimate Fighter.

He will be opposed by the strong Alexander Podlesny, who won three times in a row.

Among other things, based on the results of the Moscow show, three finalists of the League Grand Prix in various divisions will be determined.

Former welterweight champion Abubakar Vagaev will face off against former Open FC title holder Edil Esengulov, and in the featherweight division two bright punchers will fight each other - Bibert Tumenov and Kurban Taigibov, who have 15 knockout victories between them.

In turn, Mehdi Baidulaev and Makharbek Karginov will compete in the lightest category.

And on paper, it’s the first one who looks like the favorite, because at the time of the meeting his unbeaten streak will be ten fights - twice as many as his opponent’s.

UFC 299

Date and location

: March 9, Miami (USA).

Significant fights

: Sean O'Malley (c) - Marlon Vera (bantamweight title), Dustin Poirier - Benoit Saint-Denis,

Peter Yan

- Song Yadong.

On the same evening, the main UFC show in March will thunder in Miami.

And it will not happen without a fight for the trophy.

Sean O'Malley will defend the 61.2 kg belt for the first time, but against a more than familiar opponent.

After all, it was Marlon Vera who inflicted his first and so far only defeat in his career in August 2020.

Nominally, the Ecuadorian beat his opponent on the ground, but in reality the key was low kicks, with which he inflicted a serious injury on the American and put him out of action for more than six months.

But as it turned out later, this fiasco benefited O'Malley.

Since then he has won five of his six bouts and taken the title from Aljamain Sterling while Vera has focused on beating up veterans.

But if he severely knocked out Frankie Edgar and Dominick Cruz, he lost to Sandhagen, who was in his prime, and then only dealt with Pedro Munoz, who was noticeably weaker.

And I would hardly have gotten the right to fight for the trophy if it weren’t for the beautiful story of the confrontation with Sean.

Overall, UFC 299 boasts one of the most stellar lineups in a long time.

Dustin Poirier, Gilbert Burns, Curtis Blaydes, Rafael dos Anjos and Mateusz Gamrot will fight in Miami.

But Russian fans will be most interested in the duel with the participation of Petr Yan.

Ruthless will return after a year of inactivity and will try to break a streak of three defeats.

And Song Yadong will try to stop him from doing this.

Yes, it is difficult to classify the Chinese as one of the bantamweight elite, but this is his main danger.

Previously, both the aforementioned Marlon Vera and Marlon Moraes had already underestimated him.

And if he defeated the first by unanimous decision, he knocked out the second in 126 seconds.

And Ian shouldn’t make their mistakes.

If he performs at his best, he will pass Yadonga without any problems, but if he approaches the show again in less than perfect condition, he risks experiencing serious difficulties.