ONE Championship: Arjan Bhullar posts pictures from surgery; Reinier de Ridder calls out Anatoly Malykhin for title fight
- Heavyweight champ was slated to face Malykhin at ONE 161 on September 29, but withdrew from the match-up with injury last week
- Two-division champ De Ridder tells martial arts promotion ‘I know a guy who would step in’ for Singapore main event
Arjan Bhullar has shed some light on the injury that forced him out of next month’s ONE Championship 161 main event against Anatoly Malykhin, posting an update after undergoing surgery.
The 36-year-old Indian-Canadian s has not specified the nature of his injury nor has he provided a time frame for his return to action. But he seems to be taking the setback in his stride.
“The last two weeks have been a roller coaster,” Bhullar wrote on Instagram. “I’ve gone through a lifetime of sports without any broken bones or surgery, until now. We spoke to three different doctors and each one gave the same opinion. The surgery took place a couple of weeks ago and went very well.
“I’ve always leaned on my faith through life and the same mindset is getting me through this. Everything happens for a reason. Thank you for the prayers and support I’ll be back in the cage very soon.”
Bhullar (11-1) has not fought since May 2021, when he defeated Brandon Vera by second-round TKO to capture ONE’s heavyweight title.
He then spent close to a year embroiled in a contract dispute with the promotion, during which time the 34-year-old Russian Malykhin (11-0) became the interim champion with a knockout of Kirill Grishenko.
Malykin did not take kindly to the latest postponement of the fight, replying with a “chicken” emoji to Bhullar’s post on Instagram.
Reigning middleweight and light heavyweight champion Reinier de Ridder was also quick to chime in, and has offered to step in at late notice to face Malykhin for the ONE heavyweight title.
“[Bhullar] is out of the heavyweight title fight as expected. I know a guy who would step in. Watch me write history on Amazon Prime,” De Ridder, 31, wrote on Instagram, tagging the promotion’s official account and that of its CEO, Chatri Sityodtong.
This is far from the first time De Ridder has called for a heavyweight title shot. The undefeated Dutchman has made many such calls since he first became a two-division champion, and it’s easy to understand why.
If he were to win heavyweight gold, he would become the first fighter in MMA history to hold titles in three weight class concurrently in a major promotion.
Malykhin has not yet responded to De Ridder’s comment, nor has ONE given any indication the idea is being considered.
De Ridder (16-0) last fought at ONE 159 in July, when he defended his middleweight title with a first-round submission win over former champion Vitaly Bigdash.
That victory was preceded by a draw in a submission grappling match with Brazilian jiu jitsu legend Andre Galvao, and a win over welterweight champion Kiamrian Abbasov, also a successful middleweight title defence.
Malykhin has not fought since knocking out Belarusian striker Grishenko in February, having spent most of the year waiting for the opportunity to unify his title with Bhullar’s.