Friday, March 5th, Russian heavyweight prospect Anatoly Malykhin will be in action for ONE Championship, where he will be looking to continue his winning ways against veteran Alexandre Machado. He will be looking for another win, as Malykhin looks to impress the ONE brass in an attempt to earn an eventual title shot. He represents Golden Team, a solid camp in MMA. Let’s take a closer look at this prospect as this week’s “Prospect Spotlight.”
Wrestling/Top Game: Malykhin’s wrestling is superb and it seems that his opponents have had no answers for it thus far in his eight-fight pro career. He possesses brute strength, which definitely helps, but he has quick, explosive takedowns that are hard to defend since he changes levels so well. If you watch tape on Malykhin, you will see he loves lifting his opponents once he clasps his hands and follows that by trying to slam them through that mat. Once on the ground, he advances position with ease. He has good technique on the ground, but can also just use pure strength when he cranks on arm locks and other holds. He is extremely heavy from top position and hard to buck off. He is relentless and aggressive in searching for a finish to the fight. One of his favorite positions is the mounted crucifix, which he uses to look for TKO stoppages. That said, his ground-and-pound is strong and effective, and he has scored ground finishes due to strikes in at least half of his pro bouts.
Athleticism: For a guy the size and mass of Malykhin, he certainly moves like a guy half his weight. He has excellent speed and explosiveness, a combination that allows him to get in on opponents and incorporate his wrestling more effectively. Some of his entries on his takedowns are insanely athletic, and the way he chains together the shot, hold, lift and takedown is done based on partial technique, partial freak athleticism. There aren’t too many heavyweights in the game that can match the natural athletic prowess that Malykhin possesses.
Gas Tank Question Marks: Because Malykhin is such an effective, quick finisher, we often don’t get to see him fight for long periods of time. That’s where the question marks come in, as we don’t have a full gauge on what his gas tank looks like. Because he is aggressive and uses a lot of energy slamming dudes to the mat and throwing high quantities of ground-and-pound, he could be somebody whose gas tank wears as the clock ticks. He carries a lot of muscle and his weight is near the heavyweight limit. That’s a lot of oxygen to the muscles. That means if he doesn’t set a realistic pace and his opponent survives the onslaught, he could have a major energy dump in that second and third round.
ONE Champion: At 33 years old, Malykhin is no rookie. The time is now for him to make a serious run in this game. He gets his shot with ONE Championship and a heavyweight division where it will not take him long to score that title shot. Once he gets that shot, I don’t see him taking a loss for a while. Right now, Brandon Vera is set to take on Arjan Bhullar to defend his title. Whoever wins, could have Malykhin on deck. Of course, to earn that spot, Malykhin first has to get by Alexandre Machado, a reputable veteran that will be a good first test for the Russian under the ONE banner. If he can win impressively, I don’t see a very long line for him in the ONE title picture.