By Alexander Iazykov & Caoilte de Barra
The Russian MMA Championship which will be held on June 3-7 in Kemerovo and will be dated to the 300th anniversary of Kuzbass. The tournament is being held in the capital of Kuzbass for the first time and the winners will form a national team for the Russian MMA Union to compete at the IMMAF-WMMAA World and European Championships respectively.
In an interview with the RMMAU, Anatoliy Malykhin (9-0), the most titled Kuzbass fighter spoke about the breakthrough of the sport and the role MMA played in his life, along with sharing his recipe for success for young athletes.
“Without any doubt, a generation of “little” super fighters of MMA has already grown up and different schools for this sport were founded, where coaches combined all the basic techniques. It’s a fully-fledged sport with very gifted kids who can fight. It happened thanks to the Russian MMA Union, the coaching staff and all the people in charge of the organization”
“I advise young people to find the right circle of communication, be friends with the guys from the gym because there, common goals and team spirit are born. It is always easier to achieve success as a team than on your own. Listen to coaches, listen to your parents because these people always will wish you the best and they will warn you of mistakes. The main thing is to choose a very competent coach who will lead you through life, who will love you, appreciate and invest in you, and then success will definitely happen, and, of course, work hard in the gym.”
For Malykhin, MMA is more than just a sport; it’s about learning discipline and improving your life. It wasn’t always his main passion in sport though, like many, Malykhin found the sport after spending time in another discipline. His background was in freestyle wrestling where he had the goal of becoming an Olympic champion. After falling away from wrestling he found MMA and is grateful that he has.
Speaking to those just at the beginning of their MMA Journey, he said “Guys, come to the gym with a smile, leave with a smile. Work on your skills, improve and MMA will return the favour. Many of you will become great champions, but even if you don’t, MMA will give you discipline, the right goals in life, great friends, so MMA is your ticket to life!”
Having dreamt of the Olympics throughout his life, he believes that MMA is an Olympic sport and is hopeful that it will be recognised as one.
“I’m very happy that MMA has given me the life that I’m living. And I’m grateful to so many MMA people who met me on my way and helped me and still do to this day. I think MMA is an Olympic sport because there’s a show, there’s entertainment, there’s a huge audience and a huge future.”
The ONE Championship fighter has experienced what it is like to become a World Champion but doesn’t believe any world title should be valued more than another. Noting how it should be treated equally regardless of the level because of the work put in and how an accolade such as this would get you in the door of any Russian MMA Organization.
Now undefeated as a pro he looks back upon his time competing at the Russian MMA Championship fondly. Crediting his parents and the people from Kuzbass for playing a decisive role in this with the main one being played by his sole MMA coach, Vladimir Osia.
“Yes, those were cool emotions, probably not even comparable to those of the pros. I’ve never experienced what I experienced at the Russian MMA Championship and at the World Championship. For two days I didn’t walk on the ground, I just flew.”
“When I came to Moscow, I went around a lot of halls and everywhere I was looked at with a frown. And when I went to see [Valdimir Osia], he told me on the spot: “You, my friend, are going to win the world championship. His words were prophetic.”
For the Heavyweight competitor, he enjoys attending all competitions in Kuzbass and contributing in any way he can.
“I was present at almost all the competitions that were held in Kuzbass. It was an honour to make some kind of contribution, to come and shake hands with young fighters, to say some speech, I couldn’t even dream. When I used to watch competitions in Kuznetsk Basin, I thought it was cool that someone could say parting words. And I used to listen to parting words at the Russian MMA Cup. After Ilya Shcheglov’s fight, I got very excited about MMA.”
Unfortunately for Malykhin, he will be unable to attend this event due to the fact he is preparing for his next fight with ONE Championship. Despite this, he has a message to all of those competing at the Russian MMA Championships.
“It’s very important to be present at the tournament, but unfortunately I’m not going to make it this time. Now I’m in Thailand for a training camp. I had my first fight in ONE Championship, now I’m waiting for the second one, they should give it to me soon. To the guys who are fighting for a ticket to the national team, I want to say that this is their chance for a better life. When they go into the cage, let them give everything, go all the way, and achieve success.”